Just months after the wide-reaching reforms of the EU-led General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have been implemented, an otherwise simple addendum to the landmark spate of Internet legislature has been blocked. Known as the Copyright Directive, the draft legislation debuted in the European Court and is intended to enforce copyright law on the internet in a more comprehensive manner.
Despite this benign appearance, the Copyright Directive has two provisions that have been at the centre of much controversy. Article 11 delineates a ‘link tax’ that would require online platforms to pay content creators for linking their stories. The second provision, Article 13, concerns an ‘upload filter’ that mandates checks on uploaded content and links to screen for copyrighted material.
These stipulations would affect social media sites like Facebook especially, which sparked concerns about soaring operating costs for Internet companies, and forecasts about the end of Internet meme culture as we know it for users.
Prior to its discussion in the European Parliament, public furore over these provisions have gained much traction, with Member of European Parliament (MEP) Julia Reda of the controversial European Pirate Party at its helm.
Garnering over 736,000 signatures, the ‘Save Your Internet’ petition was hailed a “great success” when the EP rejected the resolution with a vote of 278 for, 318 against.
WICHTIG: Nach dem wichtigen Zwischenerfolg gegen #Uploadfilter heute, bleibt die Petition gegen #Artikel13 und 11 weiterhin geöffnet. Die Initiator*innen wollen bis zur nächsten Abstimmung im September den Druck erhöhen und mobilisieren weiter!
— Change.org DE (@ChangeGER) July 5, 2018
This landmark resolution is a relief from several restrictive Internet reforms in the past months. While proponents hail the rejection of the new legislation as a decisive victory for an open, free internet for end-users and creators alike, several organisations, unions and individuals have come out in support for stricter enforcement of the Copyright Directive.
These include Europe’s Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music (SACEM), whose General Secretary David El Sayegh declared the defeat “is not the end” for their efforts.
The Euro Parliament rejected the copyright reform but "this vote […] is not the end" as David El Sayegh, our General Secretary said. Next step < in September #CopyrightDirective #ToV https://t.co/Zt3Frlpj2D
— Sacem (@sacem) July 5, 2018
The International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC), along with notable industry figures like Paul McCartney of Beatles fame have rallied around the cause, citing a ‘value gap’ hurting content creators. Fears of large, US-based corporations like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter benefitting freely from the traffic gained by linking to their intellectual property have been the most important talking points for proponents of this clause.