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13 comments

EFF: Europe’s Copyright Directive Worse Than Imagined

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has long been beating the drum against the European Union’s proposed Copyright Directive (see “New EU Copyright Regulations Threaten the Internet,” 25 June 2018). Now it’s warning that the latest drafts are even worse than before. Article 11 would make it so that practically any link to a news article that contains more than “single words or very short extracts” would require a license from the source. Article 13 would make it so that every online community, platform, or service would have to implement filters for copyrighted content. Even worse, these latest proposals have gutted exceptions for artists and scientists. The Copyright Directive is headed to the European Parliament and will be voted on in either March or April.

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Comments About EFF: Europe’s Copyright Directive Worse Than Imagined

Notable Replies

  1. I don’t see any way that could possibly be enforceable. Not that that stops the damage, as there will be plenty of self-censorship.

    I suppose I could write all the European companies I just covered and explain we’ll remove the links and could they please contact their MEP?

  2. This is a repeat of GDPR, but with a policy people dislike, just like I warned. All those who insisted that Europe has the right to set worldwide rules for the internet are only getting what they deserve.

  3. I’m not sure what do you mean by that. I believe that Europe has the right to set worldwide rules for the internet protecting the basic rights of its citizens. After all, US has rules protecting (e.g., the privacy of) US citizens only, while making legal and enforceable to spy the rest of the world – and no US citizen complains about that. And GDPR is an excellent ruling, making the interests of everybody in the world. I have to study still how “bad” is this new version of the copyright directive, but this is independent on right for it to exist. In case, I’ll fight as a citizen to making it better.

    cheers

    –e.

  4. If the EU is going to pass laws about what I can do here in the USA—in this case about what links I can share and who I have to pay before I share them—and you think that’s a Good Thing, then I don’t know what to say except “good luck enforcing that.”

    And your claim that nobody in the US cares about what the US government does is just as absurd.

    What this will clarify is whether tech writers, such as those here at Tidbits, actually believe what they say about the EU laws being applicable to them, or whether they were only going along with other things because they thought the rules were morally right.

  5. What this will clarify is whether tech writers, such as those here at Tidbits, actually believe what they say about the EU laws being applicable to them, or whether they were only going along with other things because they thought the rules were morally right.

    Clarification on what you mean by this is appreciated.

    To be clear: this is a writer, editor, and publisher issue. When I’m working with Adam and Josh as editors, there’s a give-and-take in terms of what I want to write vs. editorial policy—one of the reasons I write here is that it’s the best place I’ve worked for in terms of keeping my own voice. But when Adam puts on his publisher hat, he has first and last word regarding his exposure to liability, and that’s entirely as it should be.

  6. I appreciate your work, along with Adam & the others. In fact, this is the only news content I open my wallet for.

    You are correct that the publisher will have the final say. Tidbits the publisher has spoken in favor of US corporations following GDPR for two reasons, both of which I disagree with. The first is that it is a Good Thing. I disagree and think it is privacy theater. The second is that it is legally required. I disagree again. There is a third reason why organizations might implement GDPR, which is simply to reduce liability. But if the first two reasons are present, the third reason is irrelevant.

    In this case, Tidbits has spoken of the copyright directive as a Bad Thing, so it will be interesting to see whether they implement it (assuming the law is passed). I suspect a number of companies will be changing their tune about reason #2. I could be wrong.

  7. I’m not following you here. There’s no editorial board issuing stories without bylines. Anything under my byline is my opinion when i’m verging away from factual reporting. Likewise for the other authors. Adam and Josh are the closest thing to a TidBITS editorial voice under their own bylines, but they’re speaking as writers. I’d say the only time Adam-the-publisher shows up is when he writes a story about the internal workings here.

    The only exception to the above that I can see is what you might infer from what gets published overall. But I can tell you from experience that Adam-the-publisher has bought stories from me that Adam disagreed with—the litmus test is TidBITS appropriateness and reader interest.

  8. Individuals cannot follow GDPR. It applies to companies. Same with this copyright law I think. So when Adam makes an argument or a decision on these things, he’s speaking as Tidbits the publisher. I never meant to imply that every single author agrees with his decision.

  9. I’m really not clear on what you’re looking for here.

    In general, I believe that the GDPR is a good thing because it attempts to give individuals control over their personal information. Is it a panacea? No, of course not. But as story after story about Facebook and Google and Amazon show, these companies are neither interested in nor capable of protecting individuals against abuses. If the GDPR even slows them down or points toward the possibility of giving individuals some sort of control back, it’s worthwhile.

    While the effects of the Copyright Directive are harder to imagine at the moment, given the near-impossibility of enforcement, they seem troubling to common uses of content on the Internet today, which probably accounts for the massive grassroots protests against Article 11 and Article 13. In some cases—the tech giants acting as news aggregators—the Copyright Directive’s requirements may not be a bad thing, but copyright law has a checkered history of being used in myriad ways that don’t actually support the goal of rewarding creativity. And I say this as someone who has made his living entirely on content creation for nearly 29 years.

    I’m also unsure if you’re suggesting that TidBITS being inconsistent or making some other mistake. I’m perfectly capable of holding multiple incompatible ideas in my head at one time, and I’m equally capable of changing my mind if future conditions warrant it. Anything else would be irrational.

    All that said, it’s safe to assume that I don’t radically disagree with anything that’s published in TidBITS.

  10. I’m not looking for anything. I thought my comment was clear enough. It was focused on the question of whether US-based businesses are required to follow EU laws. Most people were unwilling to question that when faced with a law they liked (GDPR). Now they face a law they don’t like. It will be interesting to see what people say.

  11. We’re not lawyers, but with GDPR, it’s clear that if you’re going to do business with customers in the EU, you need to abide by its rules. There’s nothing new there—when US firms sell to customers around the world, they’re subject to local regulations. With Take Control, we paid taxes (through eSellerate) to a number of countries in accordance with local laws.

    With the Copyright Directive, the situation is less obvious, but I would assume that there must be interaction with EU publishers, content creators, or customers in some way for it to apply. If it does become law, I presume that lawyers will explain what the practical upshot is, and then non-EU companies that do business in the EU will have to adjust.

  12. Well, I can’t speak for TidBITS (only Adam can do that since he’s the publisher), but we don’t exactly have a single, unified opinion here. For instance, Jeff Porten and I agree on almost nothing, but we still work together. (And I think that viewpoint diversity is a good thing!)

    I’m personally not a fan of the EU, the GDPR, this new Copyright Directive, or the idea that US citizens should abide by rules established by an unelected bureaucracy across the ocean. But I’m also a pragmatist who can understand why an American business would become GDPR compliant, and I have no trouble admitting that even here in the US, we’re seeing benefits of the GDPR. In fact, I think we get the best of both worlds because these huge companies are effectively forced to be more open, but small companies aren’t necessarily beholden to those rules. (There’s some evidence to indicate that the GDPR is hurting small and medium-sized European tech companies to the benefit of giants like Google.)

    But there might also come a point where the EU passes some egregious directive that wouldn’t be helpful or feasible for a US company to implement, and at that point, the practical decision might be to tell the EU to pound sand and hope for the best. I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

  13. Josh is “not a fan of the EU” (sic), and not a fan of the idea that “US citizens should abide by rules established by an unelected bureaucracy across the ocean”:

    1. as Adam says, this applies to US companies willing to do business with EU companies;
    2. EU legislation is always discussed and eventually approved by the elected EU parliament.

    –e.

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