10 September 2018

Quick Letter to MEPs about Article 13 of Copyright Directive

Yesterday, I wrote a post asking people to write to their MEPs about the imminent vote in the European Parliament on the Copyright Directive.  Here's what I've just sent to me MEPs.  As you can see, I decided to concentrate on the worst aspect of the Directive, Article 13, in order to make as much impact as possible.

As you know, on Wednesday there is a plenary vote on the proposed reforms of the EU copyright system.  I am asking you to ensure that today's vibrant Internet is not undermined by Article 13.  Although this is presented as necessary in order to force Internet companies to license material on their sites, the framing is wrong on several counts.

Copyright already allows artists and companies to demand that infringing material is taken down from sites or licensed.  There is no need to extend copyright by making licensing mandatory.  The main consequence of compulsory licensing is that major sites will bring in upload filters – it is the only way they can track what is uploaded in order to pay licensing fees, and to block any material that is not licensed. 

Such upload filters will easily morph into instruments of censorship.  Moreover, upload filters are always imperfect, and will inevitably block legal material.  As a journalist, I've written about recent cases of upload filter failures in the EU:


The net effect of upload filters will be to dissuade European citizens from using the Internet creatively, and turning them into passive consumers.  This will represent an impoverishment of European culture both online and offline.

I would therefore urge you to support amendments to Article 13 that do not make licensing – and thus upload filters – mandatory.

08 September 2018

Please Write (Yes, Again - Sorry) to Your MEPs to Stop the EU Copyright Directive from Seriously Harming the Internet

Back in June, I wrote a long post about the proposed update to EU copyright law. As I explained, there are some bad ideas being proposed, notably upload filters (Article 13), and ancillary copyright for news publications (Article 11), that will seriously harm the Internet in the EU. I won't repeat everything I wrote there: the bad ideas are still in play, despite minor amendments that have been proposed to give the impression that problems have been addressed. They haven't.

But I will ask you to write, once more, to your MEPs, as I did again in July, asking them to defend the Internet in the key European Parliament vote on Wednesday, 12 September. Once more, a short email is quite sufficient: the most important thing is to convey the seriousness of the situation. At its simplest, we need to remove Article 11 and Article 13 completely – they are not salvageable – and to amend Article 3 to allow companies to carry out text and data mining (TDM).

As well as the posts mentioned above, here are few more articles I have written on this topic in recent months, which you may find useful in writing emails to your representatives.

Article 13

Article 13: Putting Flawed Upload Filters At The Heart Of The Internet

Article 13: Making Copyright Unfit For The Digital Age

Article 13: Even Worse Than The Us DMCA Takedown System

You Wouldn’t Steal A Meme: The Threat From Article 13

Don’t Let Upload Filters Undermine The Public Domain

Upload Filters, Copyright And Magic Pixie Dust

Article 11

Article 11: Driven By Rhetoric, Not By Arithmetic

Article 3

Why The Copyright Directive Lacks (Artificial) Intelligence

The Right To Read Is The Right To Mine

But really, the details aren't so important at this stage: just write something – the simpler, and more direct the better – perhaps using WriteToThem if you are in the UK, or SaveYourinternet if you are in the EU. If we don't manage to beat off this implicit attack on the Internet in the vote on Wednesday, we will probably hobble the Internet in the EU forever, with knock-on effects around the world. It's that serious.