The final vote on copyright reform in the plenary session of the Parliament is scheduled for March 26. After more than 30 months of work on this topic our overall assessment remains unchanged: The proposed Directive is bad, and will not make the internet work for people. The final “compromise” text has done nothing to accommodate the concerns we and others have raised over the past 2+ years.
As long as Article 13 remains part of the package, the only sensible way forward it to make sure that Directive will be rejected by the European Parliament.
There is still time to act! Read along to find out what you can do in the last days before the vote.
Upload filters don’t (and can’t) respect users’ rights
Through the lens of copyright, Article 13 turns upside down how the web works. Instead of permitting users to upload content to platforms and resolving platforms from liability as long as they act quickly to remove infringing content once notified, Article 13 would require nearly all for-profit platforms that allow UGC to conclude licenses all user uploads. If they don’t obtain the licenses, then the only option will be to install upload filters and censor content in order to ensure that any unsanctioned content remains off their service. If the platforms don’t comply, they could be held liable for significant copyright infringement damages.
Even though there are some carve-outs that permit some smaller platforms to operate under different rules (at least for a little while), a reasonable outcome will be that Article 13 will drastically create negative effects to existing platforms and sow confusion for new players, thus dampening investment and the creation of novel platforms who won’t have the expertise or financial resources to enter into licensing deals or pay for expensive filtering solutions.
And since upload filters will become the status quo, this has other negative repercussions too. Filters can’t respect user rights because they are incapable of distinguishing between uses of a work that are infringing and those that are legal because they are covered by a copyright exception. Expecting platforms to respect user rights is a pipe dream, especially when they will be legally (and financially) obligated to reduce risk, and will simply block content. Why take a chance when there’s possibly a huge copyright infringement suit hanging over your head?
Not only upload filters, but….
Too often, the Directive is reduced just to a few controversial issues: content filtering or a new right for publishers. These are clearly crucial issues, but it is important to understand that the Directive includes other rules that can also have massive effects on Europe’s research and science, education, cultural, or AI industry–just to name a few.
The internet needs to be for the people. This means that core policies, like copyright law, need to be “for the people” by design. As our analysis shows, the final proposal for the Directive will likely be a legislative mixed bag. A range of positive developments concerning exceptions and limitations – rules that grant people the freedoms to use content for personal needs or public interest goals – are offered alongside other regulatory proposals that will have extremely adverse effects across all spheres of European society. And the deal on Article 13 is so bad that the only sensible way forward is to vote it down and rethink from scratch what a modern EU copyright framework should look like.
What YOU can do?
- Let your MEPs know what you think about Article 13
If you’re in Europe go to https://saveyourinternet.eu/act/ to tell your MEPs you don’t support a copyright reform that turns how we create and share on the web upside down. If Article 13 can’t be removed, then policymakers should reject the reform outright and begin again.
- Join Internet blackout day on 21 March
On this day, various Internet platforms will take actions to express their support against Article 13. Wikimedia Germany will be holding a black-out of their site that day. Other platforms will put up banners or messages to inform their users that they will be impacted by Article 13, and to encourage them to reach out to their MEPs and participate in the 23 March demonstrations.
- Join protests all over Europe on 23 March
On this day, demonstrations are planned in various cities across Europe, but with the majority of events taking place in Germany, Austria and Poland. An overview of the demonstrations can be found here: https://savetheinternet.info/demos