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Copyright Directive: this is why it is disputed

eu copyright directive

The copyright directive approved by Europe could have far-reaching implications for Internet culture. Two the most disputed provisions

The reform of theCopyright Directive European, the new copyright law, could have far-reaching implications for internet culture. Two specific provisions have drawn the wrath of digital rights groups like Wikipedia. Here's what the dispute was due.


Copyright Reform Approved: Everything You Need to Know

eu copyright directive

Copyright Directive: the two most contested rules

The first reform, known as Article 11, aims to give news publishers a stronger position in negotiations with internet platforms like Google and Facebook. Supporters of this change argue that large technology companies have undermined the economic model of traditional news publishers, and therefore want to force online platforms to pay rights to news publishers when they aggregate their content.

The second controversial part of the reform, known as Article 13, aims to address a long-standing controversy with the main companies that deal with content: the current regime of warning and removal in the application of grievances on copyright violations makes the battle against online piracy too difficult for copyright holders. Supporters of the reform want to move the rules on responsibility to force technology companies to take a more active role in content management, a change that could force more online companies to adopt systems of filtering like the YouTube Content ID.

European Directive on copyright, criticism

Those who are critical of EU legislation, the copyright directive – such as Wikipedia which in protest has obscured its pages for a few days in July – see both these changes as attacks on the fundamental principles that make the Internet work. They have nicknamed Article 11 one link fee that could cause problems for publishers only for having used a link to an article, due to the extract of the text in the title of the link; those who oppose emphasize that systems like Content ID have an overzealous history of use that threatens the fair use of such systems and the rights on the web related to freedom of expression.

Everything further complicated by the complicated regulatory process of the European Union, which makes it difficult to predict how these proposals will materialize in practice. Many amendments to the proposal have been put forward before the European Parliament and whatever the eventual definitive form of the copyright directive approved at European level will then be sent to dozens of individual member governments which will have to translate its rather abstract formulation into concrete and applicable legislation at the level of national.

What is clear that the proposals would create chaos in the internet economy. Although the legislation is clearly addressed to Google, the biggest impact could be minor sites that suddenly they would have to negotiate new licenses and set up new filtering systems.

European copyright law: the Content ID

A first draft of Article 13 of the new EU copyright law required that technology platforms engage in cooperation with rights holders in using content recognition technologies or other mechanisms to prevent users from uploading illegal content.

Supporters of this proposal argue that the current regime of notice and removal does not work properly for content creators. Content creators often send a removal request against an illegal copy of their work only to find that another copy was uploaded a few hours or days later elsewhere or even on the same platform. Publishers want spost more responsibility for control over violation of content rights towards the technology companies themselves, forcing them to respond to bulk requests and implement technologies to recognize repeated uploads and ban them altogether.

This basically the same approach that YouTube adopted ten years ago with its Content ID system. Content ID scans each uploaded video and compares it with a database of copyrighted works previously provided by the rights holders. If there is a match, YouTube allows rights holders to choose between blocking the video or posting adverse video ads and keeping some or all of the revenue.

Copyright Reform EU imperfect choices

But the most critical point out that this system is far from perfect and subject to potential evaluation errors, as happened, for example, to a music professor who had used pieces by long dead musicians, such as Beethoven, Bartk, Schubert, Puccini and Wagner, in a lawful manner. In the past, moreover, some companies have used Content ID to claim ownership of public domain videos published by NASA.

To address this concern, an amendment to the copyright directive of Axel Voss, a German MEP aligned with rights holders, states that cooperation between online content service providers and rights holders should not lead to preventing the availability of works that do not violate rights. But the amendment does not offer real details on how to achieve this effect, leaving it to individual countries or individual companies to find a way.

Another potential problem is as follows: Google has spent more than 60 million dollars to create the Content ID system in use. This is a relatively small expense for a platform like YouTube, but a smaller site that tries to compete with YouTube could obviously have problems in obtaining such a large amount of money to implement a similar system even in short times. Critics of the reform argue that the practical impact of imposing a Content ID-style system through the internet as a whole at European level would be to consolidate the large technology platforms we have today and block new competitors.

New European copyright law to charge Google

The other controversial part of the European copyright directive Article 11, defined by some as a link fee. Those who produce content about news have long complained that sites like Google News have built a large audience simply by providing links to news written by other people, without sharing their profits with publishers. Article 11 aims to change this, giving news publishers more control over how technology platforms extract content and link to other people's articles.

However, what the EU copyright law would actually prohibit really unclear. To allay fears that Article 11 would impose a tax on online links, Voss has proposed an amendment that clarifies that the new rights of news publishers do not extend to mere hypertext links, which are accompanied by single words. But this suggests that, if you have a hyperlink with more than one word, or maybe you link to an article with news using the title as the link text, then you could run into a violation of the new rights.

Not very clear what it is, said Danny O’Brien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Copyright Directive: what happened in Germany and Spain

And O’Brien maintains that it is far from certain that publishers would actually earn from a new linking right. Indicates recent experiences in Germany and Spain, who have approved similar legislation at national level. Google has responded to German legislation by eliminating news sites from Google News, agreeing to re-add them only if they agreed to waive these new rights on the link. German publishers, hungry for web traffic, quickly accepted Google's terms.

Spain then passed a similar law, except that it prohibited Google from requesting free licenses. Google responded closing completely the Spanish version of Google News.

The fact that Google was willing to give an exemplary signal by closing Google News in Spain does not necessarily mean that Google will be willing to do the same thing throughout Europe, since it would be a much bigger blow to Google's business, but O'Brien points out that Google News is not really a great revenue generator for Google, given that, at the moment, the Google News home page doesn't even feature ads.

The new EU copyright law threatens the entire web according to Wikimedia