EU votes for copyright law. Good bye free speech

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Pegasus
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[Update] EU's 2018 Copyright Directive draft: Background, Timeline and Upcoming Events.

Postby Pegasus » Mon 20. Aug 2018, 06:44

Hey folks, how's your summer been?

I've had this thread in mind for most of mine, and not just because of Miauz' especially gloomy title :p. I've been reading up about this latest EU copyright law expansion attempt for awhile now and I found some of its remarkable twists n' developments worthy of posting here, if only to brighten up a bit the impression given that its adoption was inevitable. A mix of other priorities and summer vacation got in the way of that, but now that I've heard of some important, upcoming events, I figured it'd be an opportune time to lay out some background info and a crude timeline of what's been leading up to the surprising July 5th EU parliament vote, as well as what's coming just so people here are aware and might even be interested in participating themselves.


Background on the EU's latest Copyright expansion/overhaul attempt (2016 to now)
The EU Commission announced its plans to "modernize" copyright law around the Union around 2016 via a new Directive (the EU parliament drafts those, votes to approve them, and then member-states have to ratify 'em at their own parliaments). In focus was addressing the constant nagging from Hollywood and Big Copyright's worldwide lobbyists about the supposed Google/YouTube's "Value Gap" (i.e. revenue to record labels from YT ads being lesser than that from licensing deals with other [music] streaming sites), as well as news publishers' misguided complaints about how they weren't able to directly monetize short "blurbs" (e.g. a small frame containing a picture and 2 sentences about a story) appearing all over social media, linking people to said articles' pages. The name this proposed draft directive began being developed under was the "Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market" (DoC). Most notably among other issues, the DoC attempted to address these "problems" through its Articles 11 and 13.
Article 13 followed a "takedown-and-stay-down" concept (sought after by copyright lobbyists and regularly pitched to favourable legislators for years elsewhere in the world), which would necessitate all sites operating within EU jurisdiction to employ filters that would scan user submitted content during upload and before they even got published to ensure no parts of any post might include (parts of) copyrighted content previously designated by rightsholders as to never go up again on said sites; if previously flagged copyrighted parts did get included, the posts would get insta-blocked, regardless of contextual, Fair Use-like considerations, and their posts could also get sanctioned by the hosting site. This was quickly understood by critics to be a "censorship/upload filters" mandate by the EU, even if the draft legislation's wording carefully avoids using of the term "filter"; there's no logical alternative to implementing this kind of preemptive blocking without filters. Worse, such a change would require complex and expensive server-side software solutions (think Google's ContentID, but deployed and running on all sites, large or small) too onerous for smaller businesses, thus saddling 'em with additional financial burdens in order to stay compliant with this prospective law.
As for the news blurbs monetizing part, for context, a similar idea was pursued locally via legislation in Spain back in 2014 (as in some kind of tax going to news publishers) and it blew up in their faces when Google and other big tech sites simply decided to discontinue services, such as Google News, for their Spanish visitors. Ignoring the crucial fact that online news outlets indirectly benefit from footfall being driven to them by such social media blurbs/embeds (thus increasing their local ad revenue), Article 11 of the DoC expands and solidifies news publishers' rights in that area, making such blurbs infringing unless some kind of mass licensing deal would be brokered beforehand between online news pubs and the popular tech platforms blurbs appear on - thus, the rise of the "link tax".
There's plenty of bones to pick in terms of how the DoC attempts to "rebalance" corporate and civil rights online, but, needless to say, the typical Web surfer did not react with much appreciation to either measure of the draft, as they can seriously impact both the way we generally discover and pursue news online, as well as our opportunity to express ourselves on various sites online without concerns of undue pre-censure, all imposed for the speculative benefit of a few corporations' interests.
To name but one big issue here, what rightsholders knowingly conflate when they talk about a "Value Gap", or when they put that term on the mouths of friendly politicians to spout regularly as if it's any kinda looming crisis, is that sites hosting user-generated content (like YouTube) and sites doing commercial, licensed distribution (like Spotify) serve fundamentally different causes even if there's some overlap on the content they offer, percentage-wise. Regulating them with the same set of legal requirements would remove the existing margin that's fundamental for all of us to be able to convey our thoughts, ideas and criticisms of issues in our lives, copyrighted works included, without a need for pre-approval by said works' owners on the de facto major popular platform that exist for this purpose nowadays. If the thousands of DMCA abuses over the years are any indication, putting upload filters on all EU sites would be a privilege that rightsholders would be guaranteed from Day One to abuse in order to silence any kinda speech they wouldn't approve of or just for the sake of petty marketing. In other words, their speculative missing revenue is our fair use breathing space, and they've been gunning to snatch that for a good 2-3 years now under the "value gap" rationalization.
The only consistently opposing voice against Copyright lobbyists' latest attempt to further encroach on EU citizens' digital civil liberties after ACTA and the famous public shellacking it provoked back in 2012, has been the German Pirate Party's (sole remaining) member in the EU Parliament, Julia Reda, and she has been raising hell about this for awhile now. Expect me to cite her a bunch of times in the timeline below :).


EU's DoC notable 2018 events
- June 2018: The EU Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) adopted Article 13's proposal by Rapporteur Axel Voss (MEP, DE-CDU/EPP), 15 for, 10 against. Article 11 similarly passed by a 13-12 slim majority, paving the way for the DoC as a whole to move ahead to a EU Parliament plenary vote the next month.


- July 5th: After a massive backlash of comments by ordinary people, activists and prominent legal, tech sector and academic figureheads alike, European Parliament's plenary rejected the draft law, 278 in favor and 318 against.
In case you regard a free and open Internet as part of your political interests and feel like holding your MEPs accountable for how they voted on this matter, here's some helpful visualized info on that:

Plenary vote overview:
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Source: TorrentFreak.

Breakdown by EU Parliament party totals:
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Voting MEP lists:
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+ means in favour of the Proposal as is.
- means in favour of a full plenary debate and possibility to vote on changes in the 2nd week of September 2018.
0 means MEP abstained.

Source here (p.7), visualization by Julia Reda (MEP, DE-PPEU/Greens).

Breakdown by Country:
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Visualization by GSchizas, r/Europe (Reddit).


- While I've never found online petitions to be any kind of effective means of pressure or persuasion, it bears noting that for the past two months, one such petition against this EU Directive and Articles 11 and 13 in particular, has also managed to gather nearly a million signatures.


What's next
Although the July 5th EU Parliament plenary vote was a fortunate surprise and a setback for corporate lobbyists, no doubt the result of many MEPs getting inundated with calls and emails from angry constituents, we've yet to reach an ACTA-styled, definitive conclusion to this fight. Beyond downplaying the mass reaction as some kind of fake/astroturfed, Google-orchestrated propaganda to deceive the crowds on mass media, and even calling for a criminal investigation for not getting their way at the plenary vote, you can be sure that Big Copyright still has a few tricks up its sleeve ready to be played, so proactiveness and striking while the proverbial iron is hot is the name of the game.
Ahead of the September 12th EU parliament vote on how to proceed with the Copyright Directive, Julia Reda and the entire coalition of activists opposing the DoC have called for next Sunday, August 26th to be #SaveYourInternet Action Day. There will be live protests in more than 20 EU cities and the objective will be to show that ordinary Europeans won't tolerate these kind of corporatist agenda-driven, competition- and free speech-eroding machinations playing out behind their backs just because a few MEPs got their consciences surgically removed or their palms greased.

You can find the map with cities near you where events have already been scheduled for that day here, and it will be updated when more are added. If you haven't already made plans and feel like your stake in having our open and public-serving Internet remain unfucked is as important as the corporations think theirs is in maximizing profits, you could do worse than show up for an hour or two next Sunday in one of those spots near you and raise your voice with everyone else there, just to give our political representatives in Strasbourg something to think about come the next month - especially considering many of them will be seeking to get re-elected in 2019, too ;).

Here's the gist of the message on what's gonna go down from Julia Reda herself to wrap this up:


More updates from her on this at her site and Twitter account.


No doubt the fight is still going on and it's likely to get even dirtier as the September deliberations approach. Rather than adopt a downbeat outlook though, and just wait to be rolled over, I think a more optimistic attitude is in order, fueled by awareness of past achievements and what the Internet has meant for all of us. With that in mind, here's hoping this fight turns out to be the next great chapter in Europeans speaking out and defending our Internet after the [in]famous 2012 ACTA backlash that got 'em to roll back their plans and sent 'em packing for years :)!
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Pegasus
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Re: EU votes for copyright law. Good bye free speech

Postby Pegasus » Sun 26. Aug 2018, 14:42

El bumpo.

"Save Your Internet" Day is today, and protests around EU cities have already started taking place. Many of them are scheduled for early afternoon, local times in these cities, so look for 'em 'round that time of day. You can also get a sense of what's going on from home by following the #SaveYourInternet Twitter tag.

In case any of you do drop by one of those - and you should, as there's sadly no better reminder to corporate bastards and sold out MEPs to keep their censorship filters and news blurb toll booths off of our Internet than people physically showing up and protesting those greedy plans en masse - don't forget to snap a few pics too to share with the rest of us ;).
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