On March 26, 2019, the European Parliament voted in favour of passing the Copyright Law, including the much-talked-about Articles 11 and 13.
What are Articles 11 and 13 about?
Article 11 – Pay To Link
Article 11 states that anyone sharing a link should pay for it which prompted the critics to dubb The Link Tax.
No snippets, no links, no photos, no previews – unless you paid the owner of the content.
Who is Article 11 affecting?
Article 11 is affecting all online platforms whose content includes links to its sources, such as:
- Search engines;
- News aggregate platforms;
- Social media platforms;
- Affiliate advertisers;
- Any website linking to outside sources.
In February this year, Google, the biggest search engine ran an experiment to see how Article 11 would affect its search results then shared its conclusions in a blog.
The experiment had the following “unintended consequences”:
- 45% reduction in traffic to news publishers;
- Increased traffic to non-news sites, social media platforms, and online video sites — rather ironically since the legislation aims to support high-quality journalism said Google;
- Searches on Google even increased as users sought alternate ways to find information.
Here’s what Google says about Article 11:
It hurts small and emerging publishers and limits consumer access to a diversity of news sources. Under the directive, showing anything beyond mere facts, hyperlinks and “individual words and very short extracts” will be restricted. This narrow approach will create uncertainty and again may lead online services to restrict how much information from press publishers they show to consumers. Cutting the length of snippets will make it harder for consumers to discover news content and reduce overall traffic to news publishers, as shown by one of our recent search experiments.
We recognize and appreciate the progress in the text of the directive, but we remain concerned about unintended consequences that may hurt Europe’s creative economy for decades to come.
Google SVP of Global Affairs
Here are other consequences of Article 11 according to PrivacyHub:
- Independent journalists and bloggers could no longer have their content shared;
- Factual statements could be subjected to a link tax;
- Fake news-outlets could see their business skyrocket and their content more visible since they are less likely to charge a fee for their links, as opposed to respected news publishers;
- Start-ups and small outlets could be significantly disadvantaged since websites are more likely to pay the fees for an established news source.
Article 13 – To Meme or Not To Meme
Article 13 states that digital platforms are responsible for material posted without a copyright licence.
Remember the Cambridge Analytica scandal when Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook was not a media company, but a medium, a technology platform, therefore, turning the responsibility for fake news over to the users who had posted them?
By the time the scandal was over, Mark had changed his position, accepted responsibility and vowed to fight against fake news.
It’s the same with Article 13. Prior to Article 13, the users were held accountable for uploading copyrighted material to digital platforms. With Article 13 coming into effect in the next years, the responsibility of protecting copyright holders will shift from the users to the digital platforms.
Upholding Article 13 – 2 options
To protect themselves from Article 13 infringement, digital platforms have two options:
- Purchase licenses for all copyrighted material that could get uploaded onto their platform (music, pictures, clips, texts etc);
- Implement an upload filter that would scan and analyze everything that gets uploaded onto the platform.
The first option is highly unlikely to happen – it’s very expensive and requires having a crystal ball.
Digital platforms will probably adopt the second option. Some of them already do: YouTube’s ContentID checks every uploaded video against a database that has been submitted by content owners.
YouTube released a few statistics related to ContentID:
- There are 9,000+ partners using Content ID, including many major network broadcasters, movie studios and record labels;
- Over the past five years, YouTube has paid out over $2 billion to partners who have chosen to monetize their claims using Content ID.
The final version of the text is an improvement on the earlier version, but we remain concerned. The EU Copyright Directive could still have unintended consequences that may harm Europe’s creative and digital economy. […]
YouTube’s Plan of Action
We will support the implementation of the EU Copyright Directive by working with Member States to advocate for the incorporation of fair licencing and liability frameworks that support creator expression and the digital economy.
YouTube, Save Your Internet
Who stands to gain from Article 13?
- the music industry;
- film production companies;
- media organizations;
- copyright groups who support Article 13 and called on the European Parliament to adopt it.
Who will Article 13 impact negatively?
- Social media platforms;
- Media outlets;
- Online service providers;
- Science and research online magazines;
- Every online user.
Latest news – Memes and GIFs remain safe
In the last year, Article 13 became the topic of many discussions, articles and debates. There was increased outcry over the death of internet memes and GIFs.
People took to the streets to protest against censorship, started an online petition to save the internet which reached 5 million signatures and academia advised against the article’s provisions.
All these efforts paid off – earlier this year the article was amended to specifically exclude memes. So memes are safe “for purposes of quotation, criticism, review, caricature, parody and pastiche”.
Article 13 could impact a large number of platforms, big and small, many of them European. Some may not be able to bear these risks. This would be bad for creators and users, who will see online services wrongly block content simply because they need to err on the side of caution and reduce legal risks.
Google SVP of Global Affairs
Consequences of Article 11 and 13 on the internet and its users
- Mass surveillance of every user and post;
- Reduced freedom of expression;
- Freely accessible digital content could be drastically diminished;
- It would be harder for new digital platforms to thrive since complying to the copyright regulations takes a lot of funds
- Limited access to science news and projects;
- Copyright violations might be flagged falsely because of the filter’s poor ability to identify content;
- Abusive copyright claims;
- Publishers blocking content from being seen by EU residents;
- Tech companies are likely to soon need to manage their own copyright, rather than rely on any third parties or the public to identify potential breaches;
- Small businesses that don’t have the resources to check every single upload are vulnerable to copyright infringement;
- Sites that host user-generated content become legally liable under the provisions of the Copyright Law;
- News outlets will get paid by news aggregators for linking back to their original content;
- Users could see less news on platforms because it costs money.
What is your opinion?
How will the internet change in the wake of Article 11 and 13?
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