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

new EU wikimedia copyright law

The new copyright law that sat Europe to approve a web threat according to Wikimedia that loudly protests and usually blocks its process

There Wikimedia Foundation has issued a strong warning against the recent proposal of new copyright law in Europe which should be voted by the European Parliament next week.


Copyright Reform Approved: Everything You Need to Know

new EU wikimedia copyright law

In the post, Mara Sefidari Huici, president of the Wikimedia Foundation, writes: next week the European Parliament will decide how online information will be shared in a vote that will significantly influence the way we interact in an increasingly connected way, a digital world. We are in the last moments of what could be our last chance to define how the Internet will look in the future.

The next wave of rules proposed by the European Parliament will allow more innovation and growth, or suffocate the lively free web that has allowed creativity, innovation and collaboration to flourish. This is significant because copyright is not just about books and music, but profoundly shapes the way people communicate and create on the internet for years to come.

New law on copyright in Europe: MEME and news sharing prohibited

Criticism of the new EU copyright law

Supporters of the reform proposals argue that they will help European creatives to be reasonably rewarded for their work, but the most critical say that the proposals are not balanced and will reduce the creative freedom of web users to share and comment on online content.

The two articles of the proposed reform that attract the most controversy are:

  • Article 11, which proposes a copyright for fragments of journalistic content, requiring news aggregators like Google News to obtain a license from the publisher to use this type of content (labeled as a link fee by the most opposed);
  • theArticle 13, which seeks to shift the responsibility for copyright infringement of platform users to the platforms themselves and that the critics argue will therefore push towards the creation of upload filters to monitor all the contents before they are published, with a chilling effect on the freedom of expression on the internet. Critics of the reform sometimes define this machine component of censorship

The first refusal of Wikimedia last July

In July, European parliamentarians issued a refusal to support reforms and voted to reopen the debate. Another vote scheduled for next week, with amendments being presented, hence the intervention of Wikimedia.

In his blog post, Sefidari Huici urges members to remember the original goal of the update: implement copyright rules that work for better access to a rapidly evolving, diversified and open internet.

The same context in which the copyright completely changed. Consider Wikipedia, a platform that today, like much of the internet, made possible by people acting as consumers and creators. People read Wikipedia, but they also write and edit articles, take photos for Wikimedia Commons or contribute to other free Wikimedia knowledge projects. The content on Wikipedia available with a free license that anyone can use, copy or remix, reads the recent online Wikimedia statement.

Every month, hundreds of thousands of volunteers make decisions about what content to include in Wikipedia, what constitutes copyright infringement and when those decisions need to be reviewed. We like it this way: it allows people, not algorithms, to make decisions about what knowledge needs to be presented to the rest of the world.

The consequences of the new copyright law

He also warns that EU copyright changes may have serious implications for Wikipedia and other collaborative non-profit websites, urging the deputies to set up policies that promote the free exchange of information online for all.

We urge EU representatives to support reforms that add essential protections to works of art, history and culture in the public domain and to limit new exclusive rights to existing works that are already copyright free.

With regard to Article 13, in particular, it warns that we would push the platforms towards the creation of expensive and often biased systems to automatically review and filter potential copyright infringements on sites, warning: We already know that these systems are historically defective and often lead to false positives. For example, consider the experience of a German professor who has repeatedly received notifications of copyright infringement when he used public domain music from Beethoven, Bartk and Schubert on video on YouTube.

The Internet has already created alternative ways to manage these problems, adds Huici, for example, Wikipedia contributors are already working hard to capture and remove illegal content. This system, which is largely driven by human efforts, is very effective in preventing copyright infringement.

He also argues that the debate on copyright reform was dominated by the market relations between the big rights holders and the for-profit internet platforms, stating that this too narrow slice does not reflect the breadth of websites and users on the internet today.

Wikimedia for a free web, lively and accessible to all

The Wikipedians are motivated by a passion for information and a sense of community. We are entirely non-profit, independent and guided by volunteers. We invite Members to consider the needs of this silent majority online when designing copyright policies that must work for the entire internet, he adds, asking Members to create a copyright structure that reflects the evolution of how people use the internet today.

We must remember the original problem that politicians intended to solve: align copyright laws with a dramatically wider and more complex digital world and remove cross-border barriers. We should remain faithful to the original vision of the internet, to remain an open space accessible to all.

A recent request for a response to the criticism of Wikimedia, a spokeswoman for the European Commission has provided the address of a FAQ page which discusses what will happen to online encyclopedias based on content uploaded by users and states that these sites will not fit into the scope of the reform (because the vast majority of the content on Wikipedia loaded with the consent of their right holders.

The EU Commission's response to the new copyright law

Nathalie VandystadtCommission spokesman states that:

The new copyright rules they are necessary to allow creators and the press to get a better deal when their jobs are made available online. At the same time, our proposal protects freedom of speech and guarantees that online platforms, including 7,000 European online platforms, can develop new and innovative offers and business models. Don't forget the memes or hypertext links, as has often been argued in the public debate.

The Commission presented its balanced proposal two years ago, in September 2016. We discussed the proposal with all stakeholders. We now expect the European Parliament to reach a position and be ready to start negotiations on this important reform with the EU Parliament and Council as soon as possible. The process was quite long. Any further delay in this phase would risk postponing its adoption until after the next European elections.

Not the first time that Wikimedia has made a high-profile speech in the reform debate; Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales added his name to an open letter in June, warning that takes an unprecedented step towards transforming the Internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation to a tool for the surveillance and automated control of its users.

In July, several local language versions of the Wikipedia encyclopedia decided to temporarily obscure their contents to protest against copyright proposals.

It remains to be seen whether the deputies will be influenced by all this pressure from public opinion.

On the controversial part of article 13 of the reform, which would make the platforms directly responsible for copyright infringement by users, the options that could be on the table include some previous texts (such as the text produced by the Commission, or the original text of the Juridical Commission (Juri), which is therefore unlikely to obtain the majority.

Possible new proposals for the Copyright law

It is likely that an amendment will also be tabled that suggests the complete deletion of the article, but probably will not get majority support given the level of support that the reform has behind it.

There may also be a version of the text produced by the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, which had joint jurisdiction over Article 13 of the proposal with the Juri committee, but stated in the July vote that its position had not been taken considered by the Juri Committee (which criticized for not having obtained the necessary balance).

In addition to these new additional compromise versions, which aim to remove the worst parts of Article 13, as Schaake states, they are also likely to be presented.

In July, the parliament voted with 318 votes against 278, with 31 abstentions, to reject the negotiating mandate that had been proposed by the Juri commission the month before. Consequently, the Parliament's position was reopened for discussion, amendments and vote, which will be held during a plenary session in the afternoon of 12 September.

The vice president and commissioner of the European Commission for the digital single market, Andrus Ansip, described the intensity of pressure and lobbying from all sides on the proposals of copyright reform as surprising.

All claim that their rivals they will kill creativity, either kill innovation, kill the Internet, or kill everything at the same time. Everything must end there. He's not taking us anywhere, wrote in a blog post in late July. nice to have a lively debate on copyright, but not what came down in slogan mode and exaggeration.

We need to go further, find an acceptable and viable compromise that gives Europeans the right kind of copyright laws for the digital age. They deserve nothing less. And achievable.

Today the debate sounds like we have to choose between protecting the artists or the internet, he added. I do not agree with this. What we should do, together, protect both: make sure artists are paid fairly for their work and at the same time protect the freedom of expression and creativity on the internet. Therefore we should not accept anything that endangers such freedom.

We should not accept to leave unprotected artists and quality media. These were my starting points for the Commission proposal. They haven't changed.

Ansip also wrote that he would like Parliament to approach the Commission's original proposals in its September vote, writing: I sincerely believe it was a good proposal, taking into account all the opposing interests. It wasn't easy to make.

It remains to be seen whether MEPs manage to compromise on such a controversial issue. And in the meantime, lobbying is working as never before.

The proposal for the copyright law of Julia Reda

MEP of the Young Pirates Party, Julia Reda has campaigned for a suitable copyright reform for the digital age for his entire career as an elected member of the European Parliament.

Instead, now, he finds himself fighting against the threat of censorship machines is link fees, from his point of view.

The proposals for a compromise currently in circulation in the European Parliament do not go far enough to address the concerns that Article 11 will damage the hypertext linkand and Article 13 will lead towidespread installation of filters upload, he claims.

The last compromise proposal on link tax now specifies that the reproduction of single words from an article as part of a link ok, but simply confirms that by reproducing the complete title of an article in a link, as normal on the web, a license would be needed. It would be left to lengthy and costly court cases to define how many words still count as individual words. The connections, the basic component of the internet, would be bogged down in legal uncertainty for years.

The proposal on the responsibility of the platform has been simplified by removing the mentions specifically on the measures to be taken to prevent online viewing of copyrighted content, but also on all safeguards, complaint mechanisms and the goal of not removing legal works . Even if the text no longer mentions the loading filters by itself, the total responsibility for all the content uploaded by the users leaves the platforms with no other choice but to filter the uploads in the best possible way, with a margin of error of caution".

Reda will present his counterproposals, which aim to remove the threats to freedom of speech and the basic functioning of the Internet from the text.

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