Home » Copyright/Intellectual Property, Non-US » Battle over EU copyright law heads for showdown

Battle over EU copyright law heads for showdown

13 September 2018

From The Guardian:

It is an argument that has drawn in the likes of Paul McCartney, Plácido Domingo and the Vienna Philharmonic, as well as pioneers of the internet from Tim Berners-Lee to the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales.

Fought with hashtags, mailshots, open letters and celebrity endorsements, the battle over the European Union’s draft directive on copyright heads for a showdown this week.

After two years of debate, members of the European parliament will vote on Wednesday on the legislation, which could change the balance of power between producers of music, news and film and the dominant websites that host their work.

Proposed in 2016 to update copyright law for the age of Facebook and Google, the directive has unleashed a ferocious lobbying war. Lawmakers have been bombarded with millions of emails and thousands of calls, many based on standard scripts written by lobbyists. Some have even received death threats, according to the French MEP Virginie Rozière.

. . . .

Amid last-minute writing and rewriting of amendments, the final outcome cannot be predicted. The proposals were rejected by the European parliament in July, despite earlier support in a relevant committee.

Among the latest to mobilise in favour were 165 film-makers and screenwriters, including the British director Mike Leigh, who launched an appeal at the Venice film festival last week calling on EU lawmakers to pass the law. In July McCartney pressed MEPs to stop tech firms exploiting musicians.

Europe’s biggest news agencies have also urged MEPs to vote for the law, as they accused Google and Facebook of “plundering” the news and their ad revenues, resulting in a “threat to democracy”.

“For the sake of Europe’s free press and democratic values, EU lawmakers should press ahead with copyright reform,” said a statement signed by 20 agencies, including the Press Association and Agence France-Presse.

Opponents are no less forceful. Wikipedia shut down its pages in some countries in protest at the plans, which it claims would force the closure of its user-generated encyclopaedia. Berners-Lee is among 70 internet luminaries to oppose the law, arguing it would be transform the internet from an open platform into a tool for “automated surveillance and control”. The UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye, has raised concerns about “prepublication censorship”.

One of the most hotly disputed sections is article 11, which would require internet companies to pay newspapers, magazines and agencies for posting “snippets” of their work – for example, the headline, picture and text bundles on Facebook feeds and Google News.

The other contested point is article 13, which would make platforms such as YouTube liable for copyrighted material, requiring them to have agreements with rights holders of music and film.

The music industry argues the rise of the internet giants has created a “value gap” that harms people trying to break into the business. YouTube pays music companies 20 times less than a “fairly licensed service” such as Spotify, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. It says the penalty on artists is magnified because YouTube is so dominant, with 1.8bn users a month.

“That is fundamentally unfair,” said Dave Rowntree, the drummer in Blur, on a recent visit to Brussels to meet European lawmakers. “YouTube have rather cleverly found a niche for themselves where they can have their cake and eat it. They can use clever artificial intelligence software to see what the user is doing … yet when it comes to having to pay out a fair share they say ‘no … we just provide a website’.”

. . . .

Internet platforms, increasingly known in Brussels as “Gafa” (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon), insist they are not opposed to copyright reform, but contend that the plans on the drawing board will destroy the internet by requiring them to have censorship filters to check for copyright violations.

“The only way to scan the platform continually is to have automated filters in place. There is no other way to do it,” said Siada El Ramly, director general of EDiMA, a Brussels group representing Facebook, Google and other internet platforms. She said filters “won’t be able to discriminate whether it is a commercial business or an individual putting the content up … it is not infallible and mistakes will be made.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian

Copyright/Intellectual Property, Non-US

4 Comments to “Battle over EU copyright law heads for showdown”

  1. Ah, it’s over, and the only thing I can think of is that cartoon where the guy is hitting the head of a shell with a hammer and when nothing happens writing ‘dud’ on it.

    For those that haven’t seen/don’t remember it, the scene ends when he finds one he doesn’t have to write ‘dud’ on.

    For the EU internet that hammer is coming down – and they are going to have a blast!

    • There is still a chance, there us a vote in January on the bill’s final form. But I can’t see it not passing, given the way they cheered—cheered!—as this went through. Almost none of the amendments that would have made it more palatable were accepted. And the idiot MEPs don’t even know what’s in the bill, what it actually means, or how viable it is to do in a way that won’t screw up fair use for Europeans.

      This is turning a lot of younger folk into Eurosceptics. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so bad.

      • There’s still a chance, but it depends on the idiots getting their noses rubbed in it ‘hard’.

        Google I think is in the best position to do this. Make a list of those companies proclaiming it’s a ‘great idea’ and show them what will be seen if it goes through.

        Music and book publishers think it’s good for them? No links in searches for their music/bands/singers/books/writers – and no blogs about them because the blogger can’t afford to pay.

        No youtube videos with a tune for people to hear and maybe want to find/buy as discovery will be reduced.

        I don’t intend to visit the EU, so all I need to do is post a little ‘If you’re in the EU please leave this site at once!’ warning and it’s no longer my fault if EU viewers see something the EU is trying to protect them from.

        Checking my Amazon historical sales, I’ve made more from the Brits than all the rest of the EU combined. Hmm, that actually might improve as I become easier to find/talk about than writers in the EU – I may have found my silver lining in the darkening EU internet cloud! 😉

      • I was just looking at a summary of the flaps over in Poland and Hungary and it turns out most of the success of the nationalists is because a lot of the voters find being told how to live by the Brusselcrats is too much like being told how to live by the soviets.

        In both cases people they didn’t vote for are ordering them to go where they don’t want to go.

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