Yesterday, the European Parliament passed a widely reviled scheme to line the pockets of big business while throwing the door wide open to Stalinist internet censorship. Most of the new Copyright Directive’s critics single out Articles 11 and 13 as the most onerous provisions.
Article 11 is a tax designed to fleece users by making anyone who links to a news source pay the publisher what amounts to a license fee. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. the EU reassured its constituents that they can post single words from news articles for free. Kidding aside, this is a brazen attempt to prop up dying fake news outlets.
Article 13 has been termed an “upload filter” intended to crack down on the unauthorized sharing of copyrighted material online. That broad definition could include everything from “Never Gonna Give You Up” loops to Pepe memes. The potential consequences of this disaster in the making aren’t hard to foresee. A single copyright troll with a stack of false infringement claims could paralyze the web.
The new Directive imposes such a huge content-policing burden that only megacorps like Google, Facebook, and Amazon have the means to comply with the law. That’s almost certainly by design. What we have here is the most egregious example yet of government serving as leg breakers for their corporate overlords. We also get the twofer of Boomer politicians meddling in matters they don’t understand.
What are the possible outcomes? A likely reaction is that sites will simply issue a wholesale ban of European users. EU subjects will be walled off from the rest of the world behind a digital curtain, force-fed a steady diet of fake news and unable to trade memes.
The rest of the planet can’t rest easy just yet. Remember how every mailing list you subscribe to sent you a policy update in the wake of that other meddlesome EU regulation? If Articles 11 and 13 stand, other polities could issue their own copyright directives. Or Big Tech could decide they want all competition hobbled everywhere and voluntarily implement EU style upload filters on all their platforms. That’s a game over scenario.
Whatever happens next, understand that the EU has just cranked up the heat under the free speech frog. The water isn’t boiling just yet, but controlling the flow of information is the ultimate end of legislation like this.
The web’s own court jester Mister Metokur offers a humorous and scathingly honest take on the Copyright Directive debacle. I recommend watching it a few chunks at a time.
The net is closing around us, my friends. Enjoy a free and open web while you can. And be sure to back Combat Frame XSeed on Indiegogo, where we’ve just added a new Build-a-Mech platinum perk!
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