We’re campaigning on a huge piece of copyright law in the EU that’s been years in the making.

Right now copyright is a muddle of restrictions on things like taking photos of public buildings, making memes, doing remix videos, creating parodies and what kinds of photocopying teachers can do. It has some good points, but this law was a chance to give users more rights & make sense for the Internet. Yet after countless petitions and consultations which thousands of people participated in, the' Digital Single Market Directive' came out with proposals that have serious censorship effects.

The big problems are: 1, a mandatory upload filter on all user-created content that websites should install. (A proposal that affects places like YouTube and Tumblr by making a souped-up ContentID system to catch copyright content the moment it is uploaded) 2, controls on how news links can be shared on the Internet aka. the Link Tax. (A proposal that affects places like Reddit that wants to give a copyright to any short content that comes with links, and charge fees for sharing them)

The Internet should not be controlled by a few large media corporations and that's why we are fighting this proposal. The law is now being debated by MEPs, so there’s still time to change it!

Do you have a question about the ‘Link Tax’? What kind of controls will these laws actually place on content creation? Why do we talk about censorship machines? What is the upload filter? Ask Us Anything!

The participants in this AMA are:


Proof that we are real humans! * Lisette, Communia https://twitter.com/communia_eu/status/802102378812112896

Edits, for formatting

*EDIT: Thanks so much for all the questions, it’s been fun! * We're closing up now, but we might pop in a few last answers tomorrow morning (EU-time) but otherwise thanks again! :)

Comments: 102 • Responses: 10  • Date: 

Jake88cz42 karma

Can you please point out to the exact part in the proposal which says that there would be a tax on links shared on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit? I read the proposal but haven't found it.

Ruth_OpenMedia38 karma

Hey. So the bit we are talking about is in Article 11 of the law. However, the neighbouring right/ ancillary copyright law is written in such a way that it doesn't make sense without also examining previous laws - the Ecommerce Directive. You'll note it says that Member States shall provide publishers of press publications with the rights provided for in Article 2 and Article 3(2) of Directive 2001/29/EC' which is not exactly accessible language.

Basically, that's about giving publishers a copyright over the 'digital uses of their work' - and then to negotiate license for their use. How is it about a tax on links? Because this is what they've told us. And because that's what it used to look like. It's come in many formats but the same law used to look a lot more like a law that passed in Germany and Spain which was about charging news aggregators for sharing links. So that's one big clue. Second - when lobbyists speak in the EU and answer questions about 'what are you going to do with this right?' they have said that they want to charge Google News and other sites that use their content, in particular using thumbnails and snippets to share content, without asking to pay fees for it.

phew. that was long! hope it made sense. :)

Jake88cz1 karma

But how will this affect users sharing links on social media?

Plus it's called "publishers' right", right? :) So the publisher is free to decide that Google News is actually a useful service which drives traffic to the website. Therefore the publisher can decide not to ask for any payment. So will the legislation have such a devastating impact as you are envisaging?

I just don't see a way how this can affect link sharing by users on Reddit or other social networks.

Ruth_OpenMedia19 karma

The publishers say it wont affect social media sites - though there's no guarantee in the law, but it does seem unlikely that they would try to target it. They generally agree that twitter links are AOK but Google News is not.

But forums are a bit iffy. and then reddit is especially off - it's a news aggregator which is what they target, where the aggregation is done by people! So the law is definitely not clear. What's very likely is that some 'collecting agencies' would set up, after some negotiations, who would charge fees to companies who use links. They would come round claiming fees and then distribute them back to the publisher. So, say lots of reddit users post links to Die Spiegel they would then have to give that info to the collecting agency who'd give a higher proportion of the fees to the publisher Like Reddit. It would have to start paying tons of money to collecting agencies for what people post, negotiating licenses etc. It would drive their costs up for a site that lets ppl use for free. It might find that some licenses are too costly - but what if they are to the biggest news sites? What if reddit says 'sorry but here's a list of those you can't link to' After all there is no right to waive charging the fees, like there was in Spain. (where aggregation sites shut down) We dont know for sure for sure how that would look but if you take a look at how that kind of thing happens already you can extrapolate.

What service do you know of that would take on that kind of legal uncertainty?

Don't underestimate the chill of passing bad laws and then hoping private companies will act with the best interest of their users at heart.

Die-Engelsman22 karma

As a single, powerless user of the internet - is there anything I can do to help?

Ruth_OpenMedia8 karma

Just to echo the others, always! And also, you can write to your MEP at (act1.openmedia.org/savethelink)

Bloodysneeze9 karma

By wreck Reddit do you mean the whole site or just for Europeans?

LetsFixCopyright8 karma

Sites like Reddit, when this type of legislation becomes reality, have several choices to abide by new laws. One option would be to restrict certain links for the entirety of the world (to take the worst case as the whole), another option would be to pull out of Europe entirely (to GeoBlock the site from EU IP Adresses) another would be to ignore it and let "them" sue.

Neither of which sound very appealing to me.

Bloodysneeze0 karma

But Reddit would still exist, just not available to Europeans without using a VPN or some other service?

Ruth_OpenMedia2 karma

They might also have to not link to European sites - that's a bit hard to police! People outside the EU want to see EU content, so it wrecks it for them

TheCerealKillar7 karma

i would like to help but i dont have any money but can we sign a petition or protest? or dispute this some how ? i already hate the fact we are going to be monitored and have our history saved for a year and im sick of getting pushed around by the government

Ruth_OpenMedia10 karma

Definitely! We have a tool that lets you write to your Member of the European Parliament about this if you are based anywhere in the EU (and you can change the letter to say your own thing) at act1.openmedia.org/savethelink

MEPs don't get tons of letters like some politicians do so they're also pretty good about actually getting back to you.

We also have a petition if you're outside the EU at www.savethelink.org

_Boz_5 karma

Is there really a chance that this law won't make it to fruition? If big media corporations are involved with lawyers and lobbyists, what's the realistic chance it won't get approved? We all know money talks...

Ruth_OpenMedia16 karma

There's a really strong chance. We've stirred up a lot of discussion about the law in the EU already through persistent campaigning so that it's now seen as controversial and new questions get asked. It's with elected MEPs now, so they have a direct route to actually listen to people. Since we started doing our 'write to your MEP' part of the campaign I've genuinely had MEPs say that they've changed their mind about it - or been persuaded by their colleagues. A group of MEPs even started their own 'Save the Link' group to oppose it. Once the tide starts turning you can give a huge push, and make it seem toxic and unwinnable. It's not easy cause you're right - there's some big lobbyists on the other side who have all their focus on this, so it's a lot about persistence. They're waiting/hoping for us to get bored and go away.

8awh3 karma

Both of those measures are ways for artists (or more likely the companies they sold their rights to) to monetize their creations. The problems in ensuring that copyright can be monetized online has caused a lot of other unpopular enforcement methods, including litigation against users, hosting providers, access providers and registrars. Do you believe there is a problem with monetizing the creation of entertainment, and if so, what would your ideal solution be?

Ruth_OpenMedia6 karma

Hi. I think the problem here is that it isn't a way for artists (here meaning journalists) to monetise - it's a way for their bosses to, and it's not really likely they will see much coming back. We did an interview with a journalist the other day who expressed some similar cynicism. (https://openmedia.org/en/qa-one-tech-journalists-take-ancillary-copyright) It's also about them controlling how and where their content is shared.

But I actually agree! News needs to be funded. They messed up by originally letting it all be free online. The thing is, charging for linking to news is not the idea. It's just going to mess up the Internet. :( Right now, I think that the solution is to pay for news directly and set up subscriptions to sites.

And I try the same with other things. I think that Netflix is a great example of making paying work. It's about making things accessible, showing value and making it really really easy to pay - and not so much it breaks the bank. And Steam for games is another example of monetizing entertainment in a way that doesn't try and re-write the Internet. :) More innovation like that!

Edit: Saw Lisette had also responded. She reminded me that what we also need are systems that actually allow flexibility and to allow people to make work public domain or creative commons when they wish, instead of defaulting to incredibly restrictive rules that only benefit the top companies.

loco_burrito2 karma

I'm hoping to get one of the tomorrow morning questions but what are the possible implications with fair use etc. under this? I love porn and a decent chunk of real-life/animated/drawn stuff falls under fair use and is already heavily under fire from people like Nintendo etc. What kind of impact would this have on that sorta stuff? Furthermore how serious would this laws influence be on different countries in regards to their laws etc.? And lastly, why are companies so influential with governments that constantly scream how they're "for the people"?

Ruth_OpenMedia1 karma

The 2nd Article we are fighting, the content filtering aspect, definitely has harms for fair use. (though in the EU, we don't really have fair use, it's more like exceptions to copyright that vary across Europe that amount to the same concept)

Under this Article 13 law, internet companies that allow people to upload their work would become liable for copyright infringement that you might do. Which means for a start they become a lot more keen to take down things that walk a fine line, to avoid paying out.

Then the law says that companies which have this kind of content must create technical solutions to detect and remove the content that could be infringing. -And it puts the definition of what should be removed in the hands of 'rightsholders', which leaves a lot of room for overreach. It's not about identifying what is illegal, it's about preventing uploads identified by the industry. This is like a souped-up ContentID for YouTube, only many more sites will need to build one. (and it cost YouTube 60 million. not every website has that kind of cash). So yes, we doubt that whatever bots they build will understand fair use / parody / exceptions / public interest.

Why are companies so influential? Is a massive question. And it has so many answers, and books on that topic. Here's a few. They pay people full time to be in government spaces all the time, putting pressure on and schmoozing. If someone tells you something 3 times it goes into your brain better - well they tell politicians their views over and over, in ever hearing in every meeting. Also, they always find a way to make it sound like their idea is going to help people eventually. And we've all been taught that 'it will bring more jobs' is the final legitimate answer to any moral crisis about a business practice, so as long as you can say that you're on a winner. And I also often hear politicians talking about balance, to make everyone happy. So they think 'we give the people something, we give the business something and it's all fair'. Rather than, it should all be about the people.

theg7211 karma

Should I, as a Briton, care, and why?

Ruth_OpenMedia3 karma

Definitely. A number of reasons. 1, Laws establish precedents. Once it has been established somewhere, it ends up getting copied in other jurisdictions that like the look of it. See how the law went Germany > Spain > EU. If all of the EU has the law, we still might copy it, with or without EU membership. 2. We might not have a choice. If it passes it could be that having copyright law that works with the EU is in the deal. It might not come down to this Article of this law, but to a general principle of harmonising copyright (which makes a lot of sense on a practical side) and this gets scooped up. 3. Once lobbyists get an idea in their heads, they don't give up easily. 4. If it does come to the UK, it's good to have your allies early.

Zilosis1 karma

Might be slightly unrelated, but is there a movement to repeal "the snoopers charter" in the UK?

Ruth_OpenMedia1 karma

Full confession - I used to work at Open Rights Group on that - and I would say, check them out as they're in for the long fight on this. As with Privacy International. There was a petition on the UK government site about it but they've already responded to basically say 'nothing to see here, everything is great with this law'.