The European Parliament just voted in favor of several new copyright policies. It’s just one step in a long and complex process, but it could have powerful effects on the internet.
Specifically, the Parliament approved two articles. One (article 11) would require certain technology platforms (think Google News) to pay intellectual property holders when they display snippets of the latter’s content. Some call this a link tax. The other (article 13) requires digital platforms (think YouTube and Facebook) to implement filters that would check for copyrighted content in uploads, and block accordingly.
Debates seem to follow a classic split. On the one hand, IP holders and some of their allies think this is great, because it means more pay for
them creators. Some of them think their opponents are spreading FUD from Silicon Valley giants. There’s also a touch of Euro-centrism against arrogant Yankee companies. On the other, tech companies, copyright activists, some of the internet’s founders, and the EFF think this is terrible as it will chill people’s online expression. This group also sees a scale problem, with larger entities better able to follow the law than small ones.
In remarks following the vote in Parliament this morning, MEP Axel Voss, who has led the charge on Articles 11 and 13, thanked his fellow politicians “for the job we have done together.” “This is a good sign for the creative industries in Europe,” said Voss. Opposing MEPs like Julia Reda of the Pirate Party described the outcome as “catastrophic.”
So what does this tell us about the future?
In the very short term, the Euro Parliament has to work on these articles a bit more, leading to another vote in January. So the policies could die, be strengthened, mutate, or remain.
It’s another sign of the long-running friction between copyright law and the internet. To paraphrase Anonymous, we should expect them. (I don’t have time to write more about this, as I’m between planes)
This also reiterates the tension between (some) large content owners and (some) individual creators, a tension that’s been in play for two generations of computing. It’ll be interesting to see how this angle plays out. The “nationalist” side of the EU debate is telling.
Where do you think this will head?