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.

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