EU Going Bonkers on Copyright


This post is by Continuations by Albert Wenger from Continuations by Albert Wenger


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I know that with everything going on here in the US it is hard to find the time to even think about other parts of the world, but the EU is currently losing its mind when it comes to copyright. If you have been following my blog here for some time, or read my book World After Capital, you know I think that copyright ought to be rolled back. Well the EU, is about to go in the opposite direction, massively expanding the obligations for online services to pre-clear rights before publishing anything.

I encourage you to read Article 13 of the enhanced Copyright Directive. It is titled “Use of protected content by online content sharing providers” and establishes liability for publishing content without having obtained prior rights. It does provide some limitations on liability but these are worded in a way that makes them essentially completely open to interpretation.

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is the central language:

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The whole purpose here appears to be to create something that is completely subject to interpretation by courts as a way to let copyright holders extract rents from online service providers. There is an attempt to protect new startups from the worst part of this, the highly underspecified suppression in part (b) above, by excluding service providers that are less than 3 years old and have revenues of less than 10 million Euros and fewer than 5 million monthly uniques. Still why would you start anything new if after 3 years or after reaching 5 million monthly uniques you were subject to this ridiculousness?

The EU Parliament needs to still vote on this new directive. And this is where the “bonkers” part from my post title comes in. First the EU Commission posted on Medium mocking any opposition to the directive with writing that was so over the top they deleted it. Now the EU Parliament has posted an bit of propaganda from a lobbying group called Europe for Creators on its Twitter feed.

Thankfully this level of condescension is helping fuel opposition to the directive. A petition against the new copyright directive is rapidly approaching 5 million signatures. And there have been demonstrations in several European cities with more planned for March 23rd (as a final vote is expected for as early as March 25th). If you live in Europe and care about keeping the internet open for expression now is the time to act.