In late March, the European Parliament in Brussels voted to ratify copyright legislation that threatens to change internet freedoms for all member nations. Two articles in particular, Article 11 and Article 13, have caused a rift in societal opinion with regards to information and creative freedoms.
According to Crunchbase, Article 11 attempts to help publishers better monetize their content, requiring anyone using even a small portion – or a “snippet” – of any journalist content to purchase a license from the publisher, a process that is costly and time-consuming for most projects. This includes even the average layperson using Facebook and Twitter wanting to simply quote a headline, show an excerpt, or reference an image.
This piece of legislation is aimed at Google News and other aggregators, which sample parts of articles to best present content to those searching through them. The decision has caused Google to rethink the nature of its presence in European countries, particularly Belgium and Spain. a Google representative told , that “it will harm Europe’s creative and digital industries.”
Article 13 forces anything that can be classified as a “platform”, such as Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and other popular social media and data sharing programs, to automatically filter all submitted content for potential copyright infringement before the content is uploaded.
These platforms already filter content for infringement, but only after the content has been uploaded. The changes required by Article 13 can cause delays in upload time and causes platforms to be legally more responsible for content, discouraging uploads and preventing platforms from accepting all material, according to BBC.
Kathy Berry, senior lawyer at Linklaters, tells BBC that “while Article 13 has noble aims, in its current form it functions as little more than a set of ideals, with very little guidance on exactly which service providers will be caught by it or what steps will be sufficient to comply.”
It is still up to member states to approve the decision, and if they do, they will have two years to implement it. Singer Wyclef Jean and web innovator Sir Jim Berners Lee have campaigned against the European Union Copyright Directive, citing it as a risk to the creative mind, according to Music Business Worldwide. On the opposing side, music artists Debbie Harry and Sir Paul McCartney have supported it, stating that it was beneficial for the recognition of artists.
OpenMedia Executive Director Laura Tribe says that “today’s vote is a major blow to the open internet,” and continues that, “the directive positions the internet as a tool for corporations and profits- not for people.”