Civilized Societies Don’t Call It Censorship, but Copyright

Yves here. The US press has only given at best cursory coverage of the proposed European Copyright Directive, which would make it impossible for any posts with links in them, particularly ones like Links and Water Cooler, to be served to readers in Europe without the publisher being obligated to pay the content owner. In practice, a judgment against a business that did not have any business presence of assets in the EU would not be enforceable, but a likely outcome of this Copyright Directive becoming effective would be that sites like ours would be barred on European ISPs.

This article provides a fine layperson-friendly explanation of how the European Copyright Directive would work and why it is such a threat to freedom of expression.

By Xnet (ex-EXGAE), a group of activists who have worked since 2008 in different fields relating to online democracy, the fight against corruption and the creation of mechanisms for organised citizen participation and to constrain seats of power and institutions. We defend a free and neutral Internet; the free circulation of culture, knowledge and information; citizen journalism and the right to know, to report and to be informed; the legal, technical and communications struggle against corruption and technopolitics, understood as the practice of networking and taking action for empowerment, for justice and for social transformation. Originally published at openDemocracy

Spanish-language cartoon Tiranía (Tyranny). Superstition sits on the throne, advised by a priest and a devil by Claudio Linati, 1826. Wikicommons. Public domain.

Xnet (https://xnet-x.net/en/), an activist group working for civil rights in the Internet, is the founder member in Spain of the #SaveYourInternet coalition, which has among its participants groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), European Digital Rights (EDRi) and others. We have come together to organise a campaign to inform the public about the hidden dangers of the new European Copyright Directive.

With the approval in the European Parliament of the final text of the Copyright Directive, which will be definitely put to the vote in a very few months’, the European Union has lost a historic opportunity to produce copyright legislation adapted for the Internet in the twenty-first century. What the European Parliament will finally vote on is a technophobic text, tailor-made for the interests of the copyright monopolies which, moreover, doesn’t guarantee the right of authors to have a reasonable standard of living as a result of their work.

If the law is eventually passed, it will be used for wholesale curtailment of freedoms and more censorship, in keeping with the bizarre idea that anything that doesn’t produce hard cash for the major playerswhich doesn’t mean authors! – has to be prohibited and eliminated.

This is a tragedy for workers in the domain of culture who (with a few, brave, and praiseworthy exceptions) have once again been frivolously incapable of informing themselves about the real state of affairs. They have passively swallowed the version fed to them by their masters and, avidly playing the victim, have become the chief mouthpiece of freedom-killing propaganda without the slightest understanding that this is not going to enhance their rights but will do away with the rights of everyone.

Alarm bells started ringing almost two years ago when we discovered that, rather than being a proposal for an obsolete copyright law, the directive is being used as a Trojan horse to introduce surveillance, automatic data processing, government by opaque algorithms, and censorship without court orders, etc.

This threat to such basic rights as freedom of expression and access to culture and information lurks in ruses which are mainly hidden in two articles of the Directive:

Article 11: no link without a license. Article 11, otherwise known as the “Linktax” article, has created a new economic “right” for magnates of the written press. This ‘right’, moreover, implies indefinitely restricting the possibility of citing the press online.

If this seems absurd, arbitrary and counterproductive, we invite you to read the proposal itself. This is an ambiguous text, described by the jurist Andrej Savin as “One of the worst texts I have ever seen in my 23-year-long career as a law scholar.” Given its muzzy formulation, the safest response for any platform will be not to link to any media publication without explicit permission.

This perverse measure will be the equivalent, on a European scale, to the “Google tax”, which is already in force in Spain and Germany. Even its promoters were soon to regret it, when Google shut down Google News in Spain after it was approved. The Google tax is paradoxical and those responsible for initiating it know very well it won’t work in Europe. For example, Xnet revealed that the big German publishing company Alex Springer was paying itself – having linked up to pay itself – in an outlandish pretence that “everything’s fine”.

Where are they trying to go with this? What sense is there in this move by the press barons to push laws which prevent you from linking up to their content, disseminating it, and commenting on them? Is this just a mix of ignorance and greed, or something like shooting yourself in the foot?

There is certainly something of this involved, but we believe that this is a mix of ignorance and greed which, in the end, means cutting off your nose to spite your face (when you’re trying to damage someone else’s face). With laws like this, the press barons can engage in legal harassment to the point of closing down social aggregators and communities like Meneame or Reddit, eliminating any new competitor, consolidating their monopoly, and thus becoming the lone voice on the Internet, the only ones who speak. In short, they are aspiring to become a new kind of television.

Article 13: no uploading content without a license. Platforms – from medium-sized providers of services storing subject material through to the giants of the Internet – will be considered responsible for any copyright infringement committed by their users, and they are bulldozed into taking preventive measures. In other words, this isn’t a matter of eliminating content but directly preventing people from uploading it.

Of course, nobody is forcing them to do anything. They are simply being made responsible for material uploaded by their users. It’s like a car salesman being held responsible for crimes committed by people who buy his cars. This can only end up with algorithmic upload filters being applied to absolutely everything or, in other words, prior, automatic, and massive Internet censorship. This can only end up with algorithmic upload filters being applied to absolutely everything or, in other words, prior, automatic, and massive Internet censorship.

Recently, YouTube prevented the pianist James Rhodes from uploading one of his own videos in which he is playing Bach. This kind of “error”, which always favours privatisation of the public domain, is the everyday reality for all authors who use YouTube.

And this isn’t just about the “errors” that lead to the privatisation of the public domain. It is about the difficulty or impossibility of uploading on the Internet any kind of derivative work: parodies, memes, remixes, fandom, satires, and so on or, in other words, the very essence of culture, political freedom and freedom of expression.

Repeating the Medieval Experience of the Invention of the Printing Press

This whole setup, which looks like a science-fiction dystopia, an impossible attempt to lock the doors when the horse has bolted, or an exaggeratedly grim prophecy being spread by concerned activists, is already being implemented today on big platforms.

At present, there are two options:

The Spotify model

 In this case, the platform would acquire all national and international licences and then make all contents available unidirectionally in such a way that users can’t upload content. Even so, in the case of Spotify, one of the few giants with the resources to do this today, paying the copyright monopolies has raised its overheads so much that, despite its commercial success, its medium-term sustainability isn’t guaranteed. If this is the situation of Spotify, it’s not difficult to imagine what will happen to medium-sized Internet companies.

This model has another defect which is obvious to most artists. The amount of money the real authors receive in the end is zero or almost zero. The amount of money the real authors receive in the end is zero or almost zero.

TheFacebook/Google model

These new Internet monopolies refuse to share the cake with the old copyright monopolies and therefore opt for large-scale, automatic filtering of all content. They will find it easier to adapt to Article 13 since now they will only need to apply the filtering mechanisms before uploading takes place.

This technology, besides being opaque and exclusive, is very expensive. Since it will be obligatory, it will also mean that these giants are very unlikely to have competitors that have any chance of prospering.

Google has spent approximately 100 million dollars to create the technology that has so far enabled it to respond to copyright claims coming in from only 1% of its users.

The effect which these arbitrary regulations will have on free Internet conversation, on diffusion of culture and information, and access to them will be devastating.

Whose Rights Are at Stake?

Authors’ rights (Droits des auteurs→ copyright) are important. But what are these rights? And which authors have them?

Any democratic proposal seeking widespread consensus and aspiring to guarantee the decent employment of authors without jeopardising the basic rights of citizens would need, finally, to take a bold stand against the copyright monopolies and management entities which are suspected of abuse when not directly investigated, tried, and condemned, as we succeeding in doing with SGAE (the Spanish Society of Authors and Publishers).

It should also take as given the fact that the concept of the author or medium has changed in the last twenty years. Since the earliest days of Web 2.0, the content generated by users has evolved from being an interesting social experiment to the digital reality in which we are immersed day in day out.

In a society like that of Spain, for example, content generated by entities which were once “big” media now account for less than 5% of Internet traffic. The EU must respect citizens as content generators and not regard them simply as people who steal content generated by the elite. The EU must respect citizens as content generators and not regard them simply as people who steal content generated by the elite.

No single company, medium, or author has written Wikipedia, or turned the Web into the repository of gazillions of videos, or generated hundreds of millions of tweets per day. We – the people – did this. The Internet doesn’t belong to them.

The threats skulking behind the Copyright Directive are part of an attempt to stuff the genie back into the bottle and embark on an inquisition that would allow the oligarchs to take control of the Internet. Our politicians and big company bosses are envious of the Chinese model.

Open Architecture

The initial idea of the fathers and mothers of the World Wide Web and the Internet, as we know it, this idea of an open architecture for sharing links without restriction, was crucial to its success. And it would be radically undermined if the directive is approved.

Now the EU wants to create an Internet with a licence. And since we are a civilised society, they can’t call it censorship so they say “copyright”.

In the final vote, all the power and wealth will be on one side. We, the people, who are on the other side – in favour of freedom of expression, an open Internet, and copyright laws adapted to the twenty-first century, which will enable authors to make a decent living and not have to scrabble for crumbs dropped from the table of the Internet moguls – will be vilified, slandered as thieves, hackers and pirates, and absurd allegations will be made against us.

This situation has happened before. And what it most clearly evokes is the relationship between the invention of the printing press and the censorship of the Holy Inquisition.

What Is the Responsibility of Artists and (Left) Political Parties?

The vote has not yet been cast. We have a few months to get everyone to understand the magnitude of the danger. We can win this battle. We have already won in extremis in other situations like the fight for net neutrality and ACTA, and we can do it again.

What would help:

  • –  Artists who will step forward and say, “NOT in my name”.
  • –  A clear, effective, and non-opportunist stance from the left in favour of an open Internet and freedom of expression.

The left instead tends all too often to cultivate a technophobic position which contributes towards censoring narratives. The case of Spain is paradigmatic. The PP (right-wing party) and PSOE (“socialist” party) voted and will vote in block for whatever the Copyright Monopolies and the SGAE tells them to vote for, which is to say what most favours control and censorship.

But the example of the left-wing electoral alliance Unidos Podemos is also instructive. They joined the SaveYourInternet campaign at the last moment in order to coopt these citizen-activists. The next day, one Anova and two Izquierda Unida members of parliament abstained from voting and nobody in either party as much as batted an eyelid. It would seem that none of our politicians take these basic rights very seriously.

We citizens who are active in battling for civil rights on the Internet will meet our obligation and fight the good fight. We’ll stop this attack on the Internet and democracy sooner or later, with or without the help of the “artists” or the “parliamentary left”, but not without bitterly calling attention to the dangerous future that is looming for freedom of expression and information, and our other freedoms in the new context of the digital age in which, again and again, the tool is being destroyed and the messenger killed in order to preserve a status quo that must not continue.

Heretics brought before the tribunal of the Inquisition, Seville by F.Moyse, 1870. Wikicommons. Public domain.

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51 comments

  1. The Rev Kev

    On a fundamental level, it sounds like the philosophy behind this law is that only corporations can create content while individuals must always be content consumers. If you are an individual content creator, you must contract with a corporation to continue your work just like an artist with the record industry. Of course this will cripple common culture on the internet but it will on the other hand guarantee the profits of a few corporations – and turn the internet into television.

    Reply
    1. XFR

      It seems to me that this has always been how American society has operated for quite some time, while paying lip service to the idea of individual free speech and free association. Any large-scale communication or organization that takes place outside the corporate system has been pretty consistently treated as scofflaw or outright seditious.

      (I once read a travelogue by some American establishment dullard recounting how he had encountered a group of Japanese youths hanging around on a street corner wearing t-shits and listening to pop music playing from a van, and was quite pleased to see that they were discovering individualism. On inquiring further, however, he learned to his horror that the teens in question had designed their own t-shirts, had decided the van’s playlist, and indeed had pooled their savings to hire the van themselves; and he left crestfallen that “individualism” in Japan would have to wait for a more opportune time. I can’t imagine that had that happened in America the local authorities would have taken anything but a dim view of such behavior–but that, of course, is surely wholly unconnected to the prevailing attitudes of American establishment dullards.)

      Right now it’s considered normal, even laudable, that personal devices aren’t given a consistent IP address, even under IPv6 (which unlike IPv4 is not subject to an address shortage), and that mobile devices cannot in general receive incoming connections. ISPs will not provide such things to individuals, only businesses, and that ISP terms of service generally ban the operation of any sort of server by non-business customers. (If this doesn’t strike you as strange, imagine that your personal phone number changed at random every eight hours and blocked all incoming calls without exception, and that your phone company told you that you’d have to upgrade to a pricey business-class service if you found that arrangement at all unsatisfactory.)

      Aside from the problems of the network itself is the seemingly relentless push to make it nigh-impossible even to store one’s own personal data files anywhere but on “the cloud”–the preposterous term we’re now all supposed to use to describe a large corporation’s server farm.

      A viable political left in this century has to rest on the three pillars of minority rights, economic justice, and “hackitivism”. The skyrocketing inequality figures we see today speak to the utter failure of the current approach–if the left can’t fight inequality in practice, then what use is it to anyone? Issues such as the one in the OP must be put front and centre lest the broad mass of the population ultimately be driven into de-facto serfdom by a metastasizing security state and an out-of-control IT sector.

      “Culture lag” and general ignorance–combined with a large overhang of aging baby-boomers who came of age during the civil rights era, and a long standing American disdain for anything “nerdy”–has created a situation where the erstwhile left has instead been manipulated into re-fighting and re-re-fighting the battles of the ’60s and ’70s while being repeatedly steamrollered with nary a fight on nearly all of the critically significant battles of today.

      The Twitter mobs and ostensibly left-wing mainstream organs often single out “hackitivists” and other leftish malcontents. Aside from the obvious example of Assange, there was the successful campaign to fire the Mozilla CTO, who had been steadfastly blocking the inclusion of DRM into Firefox, ostensibly because he’d donated to the No campaign during California’s gay-marriage referendum. (He had never been accused of homophobic behaviour in his capacity as CTO.) Now Linus Torvalds has taken leave from maintaining Linux, his abrasive management style having been declared fatally “gendered” on the basis of some unnervingly flimsy arguments. It all reminds me of the “particicutions” in The Handmaid’s Tale, which I imagine were inspired by Atwood’s own observations of the earlier implosion of the ’60s left.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Torvalds is back.

        And there seems to be an attitude among many in Europe these days that free speech–Hitler’s specifically in the last century–is a menace and incubator of rightwing retrogression. One could argue however that the rise of the Nazis had less to do with Adolf’s supposedly magic oratory and more to do with brownshirts breaking heads and a strict regime of censorship. In the movie Sophie Scholl the lead character spreads memeographed reports about Stalingrad and shortly thereafter loses her head to the guillotine. Perhaps while claiming to fight fascism the Euro hate speech laws and zeal to control the internet are moving exactly in that direction.

        The US congress tried to pass a law like this and it was shot down. Here’s hoping the EU will once again follow our example and ultimately reject this ridiculous law.

        Reply
  2. SoldierSvejk

    Well, and if all that does not work, just ban ’em.
    There is a report that Paul C. Roberts has had his twitter account suspended:
    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-10-25/twitter-bans-former-asst-treasury-secretary-paul-craig-roberts-after-sputnik
    “He’s also vehemently against interventionary wars around the world, and spoke with Russia’s state-owned Sputnik news in a Tuesday article – in which Roberts said that President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty was a handout to the military-security complex.”

    Reply
    1. Boris

      I found this shocking news, but on his own site, Roberts writes:

      “Dear Readers:

      It is all over the internet and international media that Twitter has suspended my account.

      This is not the case.

      I do not use social media.

      I discovered that a Twitter account was operating in my name.

      I requested that the account be taken down.”

      Reply
  3. William Hunter Duncan

    Another reason why I would be a strong advocate for Brexit if I were English, that such pathology is demanded by EU membership. Centralized control seems to breed such ugliness, such a desire for total control. No cross-border convenience is worth such servitude.

    Reply
    1. Newton Finn

      Yes, all the more reason to rejoice (though in fear and trembling) in the Brexit vote. There are obvious potential dangers in exiting the EU, but are there not equally obvious and ACTUAL dangers in staying in? Is not the serious consideration being given to this proposed directive, lethal for free speech and public education, Exhibit A of the “glad we left” position?

      Reply
  4. Quentin

    This is news is horrific for us living in an EU country. And the report/rumor that Paul C. Roberts has been suspended from Twitter is equally so.

    Reply
  5. KPC

    I will read the article later.

    However, the real issue in the law is “fair use” and “fair attribution”. I know of no material difference in the law within the EC, Central or South America or Asia or even USA.

    Were we not able to fairly “use” and then properly citate (White Book Form), I have no idea how I would get a tax return out of this firm whether for USA at union level or its endless sovereign states and more. Nor could we vaguely begin to “up date” the flipping USA income tax software where statutory/regulatory law exceeds 74,000 pages, union level only. I am one of the attorney/accountants who works with the sainted computer programmers who do this in COBOL, no less. Been doin’ it since 1979.

    The entire tax code in my country totals 214 pages and, yes, we e-file and, no, I do not get hammered when I citate properly in this country.

    Admittedly, enforcement of the law can be dodgy but this issue is unrelated to the law itself.

    So, buck up. Somebody wants to sue me for fairly using their writing with proper attribution is a fool. Again, fair use explicitly does not include copying, especially in the entirety. That would go for my work as well.

    One does not need to copyright anything to go after plagiarism which is wholly separate and independent of copyright, trademark or similar.

    Yes, I have testified on these very matters before the USA constitutional courts.

    Reply
    1. Alex Cox

      EU law does not recognise fair use. This is an American concept.

      There is in Europe a concept of “fair dealing” but it is far less developed than the fair use concept. The European Commission is extremely neoliberal, and as we see in this instance favours corporate power over the rights of the individual or the nation state.

      I’m a writer and film director, and submitted comments opposing the legislation, on the grounds that the Berne Convention copyright period is far too long, and that actual creators rarely retain their copyrights, to no avail.

      The author calls for ‘Artists who will step forward and say, “NOT in my name”.’ I will. But the comment period is over. Who do I say it to?

      Reply
      1. KPC

        Semantics. I am an attorney and accountant.

        We would not get the translations out for RWE AG if we could not quote and properly attribute. Same for a few others.

        Reply
  6. Oldlion

    Not sure about this. The way it is presented here in France is that it is tailored to prevent parasitic behaviour by large player (Google/Facebok) style that make money through advertising without redistributing

    And in my understanding many authors are in favor of this directive.

    I also understand it is a kind of kryptonit for Google and consort so they spend a lot of ressources into this.

    I have to admit though that I do not understand the underlying mechanisms, But if this is explored further here I have no doubt I’ll reach a better understanding of this.

    Did the NC team really look into the text yet to ses the practical impact on its activity ?

    Reply
    1. Clive

      There’s been a lot of soft soaping from the EU — which I do give credence to, I do think the EU wants to try to implement this Directive sensibly — that hyperlinks alone, accompanied by description text which is original or perhaps a few words from the original material will be permissible. See http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20180906IPR12103/parliament-adopts-its-position-on-digital-copyright-rules

      The snag might be when you take a paragraph or thereabouts from the linked-to material. Some more than a few words or so, anyway.

      The current consensus is that Member State enforcements will be key and the final impacts won’t be known until there’s been a few cases go through the courts, including the ECJ. A lot of the potential for silliness might get knocked away in that process. On the other hand, it could end up being overly-draconian. Most commentators do agree the legislation is sloppily worded, which doesn’t help anyone.

      Reply
  7. DJG

    As a professional writer, editor, and translator, I’d be more sanguine about some of the criticisms in the article if this headline, Whose Rights Are at Stake?, then proceeded to avoid the issue of paying writers, translators, and other people who actually do the writing and publishing.

    The idea that Creative Commons is “generating content” is about as reliable as the idea that The Singularity is a much-desired eventuality. Spontaneous disruption! No one gets hurt! It just happens: It’s a thing, as the youngsters say.

    Pay writers. Pay musicians. Pay poets. Then we’ll talk about how you’re being oppressed by Disney. The vast majority of the copyrights in the world aren’t held by Disney, and you aren’t being oppressed because Marianne Moore’s work is still under copyright.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      There’s no requirement that you, the New York Times or Hollywood movie companies are required to release content in a piracy accessible form such as the internet or in the movie company’s case on DVDs and Bluray. These media companies could stop unauthorized use right away by simply keeping their product off the web. Indeed, as Cory Doctorow has pointed out, people like Rubert Murdoch could keep their publications off of Google by simply inserting a robots.txt into the HTML. Yet strangely Murdoch, one of the chief complainers, did not do so.

      So in many ways those traditional content companies who attack the web are like gentrifiers who move into a poor neighborhood and then complain about the neighbors. It is about enclosing the commons, and these sorts of laws and restrictions have never been popular with the public as opposed to the ownership class. Indeed one reason the internet has come to threaten newspapers and TV is precisely because it lacks gatekeepers.

      Trying to put Pandora back in the box is probably not going to work in any case. Here’s hoping the EU countries reject this.

      Reply
      1. Arizona Slim

        Carolinian, that’s good advice. I’ve known more than a few photographers who simply don’t put their best work on the Internet. Instead, they display the “pretty good, four out of five” stuff online.

        Where can you find their best? In printed portfolios that they show in person.

        Reply
    2. KPC

      The English word you are looking for is plagiarism.

      I do not “copy your work” and then claim it to be my original thought. Nor do I copy an entire book, etc.

      You ought to be grateful when I, in fact, recommend to clients, colleagues and friends that they read your original work explicitly sending them to you. This act on my part actually increases your revenue.

      Same applies to my original work, by the way.

      Reply
    3. Yves Smith Post author

      You are really missing the point. Fair use helps the writer, and links even more so. It’s endorsement of and promotion of the work.

      People regularly ask me to link to their story because it drives traffic to them. I am conversely unhappy when pubs like the Sacramento Bee and Reuters mention my work and don’t link to me.

      Reply
    4. redleg

      Writer, songwriter, musician here.
      The simplest way to pay a songwriter/musician is to build a licensing fee into internet access or data plan cost. From there, pay that to the appropriate middlemen (e.g. BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, for musicians) who have formulas in place to distribute the revenue to the artists and writers, which works for TV, video, movies. While not perfect, it works well enough (internationally!) and can easily adapt to most any media format. It would instantly solve “piracy” problems for non-commercial sharing, and would not allow commercial/public use without appropriate synch and/or performance licenses under the existing laws.
      I’m not sure how that works for authors, reporters, filmmakers, etc., but that shouldn’t be an insurmountable problem.

      I agree that it doesn’t make any sense to require a license for something that generates revenue through ads or subscriptions. Cut the traffic and the ad revenue drops, and paywalls can filter non-subscribers. So is this a solution in search of a problem? With the problem being competition? If so, do the EU anti-trust laws do anything to mitigate or prevent this?

      Reply
  8. Synoia

    What sense is there in this move by the press barons to push laws which prevent you from linking up to their content, disseminating it, and commenting on them? Is this just a mix of ignorance and greed, or something like shooting yourself in the foot?

    1. It’s an anti-google law
    2. The newspapers (publishers) want their business model, news leads-adverts pay, enshrined in law

    It’s all about being in control of the cash flow, advertising money.

    Reply
  9. blennylips

    As the only “pirate” to be threatened with burning at the stake over a speech. Rick Falkvinge later delivered it as the keynote address at the 2013 Black Hat confab:

    Black Hat EU 2013 – Shelters or Windmills: The Struggle For Power and Information Advantage

    The focus of the keynote is on how history teaches us that information advantage equals power, and that any technology that levels the playing field — printing press, libraries — has been met with forceful resistance from those with the incumbent information advantage. We are seeing the exact same mechanisms in motion now. The title comes from a Chinese proverb: When the winds of change blow, some people build shelters, and others build windmills.

    Reply
  10. LifelongLib

    I guess I’m missing something here. When NC links to a site, there are still paywalls and subscription requirements if the site has them. So how is that different than just coming in from a web search?

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Help me. NC can’t link without NC being obligated to pay. NC can’t put up an excerpt. If a reader puts up a link or a quote in comments, NC is obligated to pay.

      This will absolutely kill any use of linking whatsoever in Europe. Why you don’t understand that after the article explained that is beyond me. It will force everyone to use search engines to find anything.

      And as you know, hardly any sites have paywalls that require you to pay for every view. Even the WSJ, which is very tough on this issue, Publications can decide what rules they want to set around access to their content. Many that have paywalls allow access through Google if you Google the headline because that somehow elevates their ranking in searches more than if you accessed the article directly.

      Reply
      1. LifelongLib

        I understand NC (say) would have to pay. I don’t understand why the site would care whether it was accessed via a link or from a browser since it could still impose the same paynent requirements for viewing content. My question was about the logic of the new law.

        Reply
      2. Charles 2

        From what I read in Julia Reda website, Individual blogs are not concerned, only platforms.
        In her own words (I am sure she will forgive me to quote her without asking a license)

        While the EU Commission wanted everyone to pay for snippets, including individuals, the Legal Affairs Committee wants to limit this to internet platforms.
        But of course, such platforms are what individuals use to share news articles today. Hardly anyone runs their own blog: Our profiles on commercial sites are, for better or worse, where we express ourselves.

        You see ? All the hard work of setting up and maintaining you own blog instead of publishing on FB pays off, you should be in the clear !

        In case your ISP considers that 3.5 person partially funded by a Paypal donation campaign is a full fledge “News Organisation”, or an “internet platform” for us mere comment writers, it is actually explicitly excluded in recital 33 hyperlinks don’t require licensing, it is the “snippet” that does
        To take an example from your last link batch
        A good layperson-friendly Article about numbers beyond the ordinary is OK, whereas
        The (Imaginary) Numbers at the Edge of Reality is NOT OK, because you a copying the title of the article that the editor took great pains to figure out (or not).
        It is not outlandish from my standpoint, if an article doesn’t deserve one minute of original thought to find an introductory sentence, it is probably not worth linking to it anyway.

        Forcing people to have original thought when posting comment and referring links, or even host their own blog seems quite OK for me.

        In the event everything fails, you can still retreat to patchwork on scuttlebutt platform, I would gladly visit the patchwork pubs you visit worldwide.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          The idea that you can’t quote a title is ridiculous. Please tell me how you are supposed to do footnotes or indexes? You want to impede communication and sharing, this is just the way to go about it.

          And I don’t have time to dream up descriptions. Neither do most people who do a lot of information-bsed work.

          Reply
      3. Enquiring Mind

        I liken Google and other intermediaries to those Germanic barons levying river tolls. Creative positioning by those parties to extract whatever value may happen by, so a type of annuity.

        Reply
  11. GramSci

    Is there any provision in the proposed directive that would forbid a site, e.g. NC, from granting a free and public license to up to eg 500 words of, and all links to, its own content?

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, look at the Springer example. Springer is having to pay license fees to itself.

      And the issue is not other people using our content. Linking at all is de facto prohibited. You are supposed to pay merely for linking to another site.

      Reply
  12. SerenityNow

    Earlier this year I was travelling through Scotland and stopped at a little harborside cafe, and the proprietor there had a very particular music playlist that only included somewhat old and uncommon songs. When talking about it, he explained that EU regulations on music copyright were so strict that he didn’t dare play anything that wasn’t in the public domain, and he had written a special program that only drew from music sources that were 100% free. He recounted how the regulatory agency in charge of policing music copyright was known for calling businesses and vaguely questioning employees to see if unscrupulous business owners were playing music illegally–and then charging exorbitant fines! I don’t quite remember the details but it seemed he was even afraid to play the radio.

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    1. JTMcPhee

      Another deployment of “fear, uncertainty and doubt” by the powers that have long known how effective (and cost-effective) it is.

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    2. Neil Carey

      Doubt that it is an EU regulation, in Ireland we have the Irish Musicians Rights Organisation which
      ” is a national organisation that administers the performing right in copyright music in Ireland on behalf of its members (songwriters, composers and music publishers) and on behalf of members of the international overseas societies that are affiliated to it. Music users such as broadcasters, venues and businesses must pay for their use of copyright music by way of a blanket licence fee.”
      Which is only right, but by all means just blame the EU.

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  13. chuck roast

    Artist’s Rights (AR) in the UK is almost as bad. A guy can be dead for 40 years and you still have to pay AR for a piece of his/her art that you buy at auction. I don’t know exactly how they figure it, but it’s a nice scam. Kind of like paying Ford Motor Company the vig every time somebody sells a ’65 Mustang.

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  14. The Rev Kev

    Copyright can get weird at times. When I was staying in Germany decades ago, I was reading an article about a German businessman that had an unusual hobby. He collected the copyrights for unusual pieces of music and one was for, I believe, one that the Popes used. Anyway one day he found that “The Internationale” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Internationale) had become available which he snapped up as a great acquisition.
    How this played out was that when that song was played in a concert for example in East Germany, they had to get his permission which he found bizarre. Then not long after, he was approached with the offer that the world-wide rights were also up for offer which meant the entire communist world as well. And here he was as a businessman of the west. At that point, he sound he found that ‘he did not understand how the world worked anymore.’

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  15. Ron Con Coma

    This might sound a little off base but please bear with me. There is a promising autism therapy ( Relationship Development Intervention) which runs an internet “platform” (accessed by password only). Parents (clients) upload videos of themselves using the RDI methods with with their autistic children. Consultants then view the videos and advise the parents. With this set-up consultants and clients do not have to be geographically close.

    If article 13 calls for a blanket inclusion of all content uploads then services like this will no longer be available in the EU.

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  16. JTMcPhee

    “Civilized?” Use of the word assumes a whole lot of facts not in evidence. Maybe “current” would be more accurate.

    Bearing in mind that “civilization” is the current state of the process that began when humans figures out they could plant the seeds they used to just gather and eat, and end up with lots more seeds they could store against future needs. Leading to the need for granaries, and walls to protect the granaries from other humans intent on taking the ‘fruits of one’s labors.” And then armies to man the walls, and go forth and break down the walls of other humans and rape their women, enslave their children and take their seeds and stuff. And priests to legitimize it all, holding special knowledge of “linear-circular time” like when the rains were likely to come, thus when to plant and reap, and justify, with sophisticated inventions, the rule of God-kings with divine rights, and all the rest of ‘sophisticated society.” That “civilized nations” structure that has us all facing the results of what looks like species apoptosis to me, a death wish via ecocide by CO2 or nuclear explosions or some biological intervention or mutation. To me at least, “civilized” is not an adjective that carries some positive connotation of comity and decency.

    So what is complained of here, about the legalized confiscation described in the post, is just one of the many markers of the cancerous properties of what gets so blandly and positively called “civilization,” as if that “civilizing’ process has not been and will not continue to be rolling along like some Indian Jagganath idol, crushing enthusiastic and rapturous mopes beneath its wheels.

    “Civilized” is like “sophisticated.” The latter used to mean “adulterated, made impure, debased, false, even fraudulent,” as in “Poor vintages of wines were often concealed by sophisticating them with sugar of lead (lead acetate, a poison unusual because sweet rather than bitter or acid” – https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/sugar-of-lead-a-deadly-sweetener-89984487/ So a sophisticate was shallow if complicated, “worldly-wise” and deceitful.

    But some good PR work, and the way the meanings of words morph over time and with the play of “interests,” has turned both of these words into feel-good memes for most of us humans.

    Interesting how those notions run together in the “current” state of human presence and impact on this little planet.

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  17. Peter Boardman

    There is a variously attributed saying “Don’t start a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.” This dates from days when the so-called press barons were essentially media monopolists. Or was it the ink manufacturers…?

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  18. ObjectiveFunction

    John Perry Barlow (RIP) previewed today’s clusterf[amblog] back in 1994 in his seminal essay ‘The Economy of Ideas’. It’s the ’95 Theses’ of the digital era.

    https://www.wired.com/1994/03/economy-ideas/

    Rights of invention and authorship adhered to activities in the physical world. One didn’t get paid for ideas, but for the ability to deliver them into reality. For all practical purposes, the value was in the conveyance, and not in the thought conveyed. In other words, the bottle was protected, not the wine.

    Now, as information enters cyberspace, the native home of Mind, these bottles are vanishing….

    Barlow then duly predicted heavy handed attempts by corporate IP lawyers to enforce broad claims on digital IP theft (e.g. Napster), which were largely confined to ‘hanging a few visible scapegoats’ and ignored entirely by non-Westerners.

    But what the EFF’s Hari Seldon did not foresee was how swiftly human access (both software and hardware) to cyberspace itself could be fenced, deeded and taxed. And that for the most part the sheeple would accept this yoke for ‘free’ apps, ‘beauty face’, poop emojis and 140chars….

    So today, IP has been ‘rebottled’ by our Disruptive AngelFunded Oligarchs under a revivified Orwellian broadcast model that hears as much as it tells. (Barlow asserted the broadcast model was dying. How wrong he was about that!)

    But perhaps more hopefully, to steal a phrase, the best cure for monopoly rents is monopoly rents. Per Barlow, the very act of withholding or strictly tolling information rapidly erodes its value as property. (How many kids today have any clue who Bugs Bunny is?)

    Rather than pay an aggregator up front for uncurated/algo-selected content that may or may not be worthwhile, most people either do without, or #alternativefacts. Information is really only monetizable, says Barlow, when it’s either time sensitive (intel) or bundled with a value-added relationship (e.g. Yves, Lambert et al.)

    This in turn makes it uneconomic for rentiers to police and quash ‘property’ leaking outside their paywalls. Especially esoteric academic information, vs KimK in the shower photos….

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  19. nick weech

    It’s a disaster waiting to happen. What hope is there tho’? I support NC and I know Dark Forces are literally circling our wagon

    Reply

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