EU Copyright Directive Article 13 Now Worse Than Ever
Written by Sue Gee   
Thursday, 07 February 2019

A compromise between France and Germany over Article 13 of the EU Copyright Directive is very likely to be accepted by the European Council tomorrow so that its final trilogue negotiation can take place on Monday 11th February. The only remaining chance to defeat it will then be at a final vote by all MEPs in March or April.

When we reported in January that the EU Copyright Directive had stalled, it was with some optimism that MEPs, the elected members of the European Parliament, had come to their senses and understood the ways in which the proposed legislation poses a threat to the future of the Internet. Unfortunately this was not the case and the process of enacting the law had resumed.

It transpires that the reason the final trilogue, involving the European Parliament lawmakers, representatives of EU countries and Commission officials, had been postponed was because France and Germany, both supporters of the upload filters, aka the #CensorshipMachines, were in disagreement over their scope.

As Julia Reda's latest blog post explains, Germany wanted to exclude companies with a turnover below €20 million per year so as not to harm European internet startups and SMEs, whereas France considers Article 13 has to apply to all platforms, regardless of size.

The Franco-German compromise that has now been agreed on means that Article 13 will apply to all for-profit platforms and that upload filters will have to be installed unless a service fits all of three of the following criteria:

  1. Available to the public for less than 3 years
  2. Annual turnover below €10 million
  3. Fewer than 5 million unique monthly visitors

According to Julia Reda:

Countless apps and sites that do not meet all these criteria would need to install upload filters, burdening their users and operators, even when copyright infringement is not at all currently a problem for them.

She argues that, Article 13 still calls for nearly everything we post or share online to require prior permission by “censorship machines” and that these algorithms are fundamentally unable to distinguish between copyright infringement and legal works such as parody and critique.

  • It would change the web from a place where we can express ourselves (with some moderation applied after-the-fact on platforms) into one where big corporate rightholders are the gatekeepers of what can and can’t be published in the first place. It would allow these rightholders to bully any commercial site or app that includes a posting function.

  • European innovation on the web would be discouraged by the new costs and legal risks for startups – even if they only apply when platforms turn 3 years old, or achieve some success. Foreign sites and apps who can’t afford armies of lawyers would be incentivised to just geoblock all EU-based users to be on the safe side.

Reda points out that the European Parliament will have one last chance to reject the legislation when it comes up for a final vote and that as this will be shortly before the next EU elections MEPs may be responsive to the wishes of voters.

Another way to express your views is to sign a petition that asks legislators to reconsider the Directive. This has already been signed by over 4.5 million people. 

Although many assume that big commercial US tech companies will emerge unscathed, or even at an advantage, from this legislation, Google today repeated its concerns about it. In a blog post with the title Now is the time to fix the EU copyright directive by Kent Walker, SVP Global Affairs.

As well as speaking out against Article 13, Walker argues that Article 11, which introduces a link tax:

would be bad for both users and smaller and emerging publishers.

He refers to an experiment Google ran in the EU to explore the impact of Article 11 which indicated  a 45 percent reduction in traffic to news publishers, stating:

Our experiment demonstrated that many users turned instead to non-news sites, social media platforms, and online video sites—another unintended consequence of legislation that aims to support high-quality journalism. Searches on Google even increased as users sought alternate ways to find information.

He ends his post with:

We call upon policy makers to listen to their ideas, and to find a solution that promotes rather than limits the creative economy.  



More Information

Article 13 is back on – and it got worse, not better

Now is the time to fix the EU copyright directive

Save Your Internet 

Related Articles

EU Copyright Directive Stalled

Catastrophic EU Copyright Directive Approved

Threat To Internet Staved Off Until September

Why Article 13 Must Be Stopped

Save Code Share - Urgent Action Needed



Last Updated ( Monday, 15 April 2019 )