Friday, 14 September 2018

EU Copyright Directive

EU Flag

I'm staunchly pro-EU. I firmly believe that Brexit will be a disaster.

And yet the European Parliament just keeps on doing things that force me to sympathise with my Brexiteer neighbours.

This week they voted in favour of another example of ridiculous overkill legislation in the form of the new copyright directive. As it currently stands it could mean an almost blanket ban on user generated content ranging from critiques, parodies, reviews, memes, reaction gifs, etc.

Article 13 insists upload filters will now automatically search databases of copyrighted material and delete infringements. How these filters will be able to distinguish between 'fair dealing' and outright content theft is anyone's guess. Once you factor in the complexities of local copyright law across all EU member states #13 goes from ambitious to laughable. You only have to look at the problems with YouTube's Content ID to understand some of the difficulties an even larger scale filter will face.

YouTube

Article 11 wants to charge people a 'link tax' for sharing news stories. This move 'shall not prevent legitimate private and non-commercial use of press publications by individual users', which would suggest that blogs, rss feeds, internet celebs, websites running paid ads, etc, can all still be expected to stump up cash for the right to include quotes or information about where that link is taking their audience. Spain already tried a watered down version of this which went about as well as you might expect - Google closed the Spanish version of Google News and traffic to news sites fell by as much as 14%.

Other worrying features of the directive include handing event organisers the copyright of all pictures taken at an event. This would technically forbid you from uploading even a selfie taken at a football match or music festival. Although, again, how enforceable this would be is highly debatable.

The real worry is that rather than comply with complicated and restrictive legislation, providers may simply choose to geoblock their services. We already saw it in response to GDPR, and we will doubtless see it again. The difference will be that instead of blocking access to sales, the copyright directive will be focused on curtailing freedom of expression and restricting the flow of news and information.

There is still time for tweaking of wording and clarification between now and the final vote likely to take place early next year. Here's to hoping common sense prevails and we see significant watering down to both Article #11 and #13.



How did your MEP vote? You can find out HERE. The four Welsh MEPs voted as so:

Derek Vaughan - Labour - FOR.
Nathan Gill - UKIP - AGAINST.
Kay Swinburne - Conservative - FOR.
Jill Evans - Plaid Cymru - AGAINST.



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