Digital commissioner Günther Oettinger (CDU – EPP) is joining with European Parliament president Martin Schulz (SPD – S&D) in pressing the European Commission to create a copyright interest in links, meaning that making a link to a Web-page that contains infringing material would expose you to liability for copyright infringement yourself.
This plan, documented in a leaked European Commission document, would effectively end Internet publishing as we understand it. Take Boing Boing: we've made something like one million links over the years. Even if we'd been able to pay lawyers to review every page we'd ever linked to, we'd also have to pay layers to continue to review all of those million pages regularly, to make sure that none of those pages had been updated with infringing material.
It's a grotesque perversion of copyright, which gives creators the right to control who may copy and display their creations, expanding this right to encompass who may factually state the location of copies of those works.
The effort is a doomed attempt to give failing newspapers the right to sue search-engines over indexing their articles, something that has been a dismal failure is Spain and Germany.
German Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda is calling on Europeans to take action now, demanding that this plan be abandoned before it is officially announced in early December:
The leaked text is not a law proposal, but just a summary of the Commission’s plans for next year. The plan is supposed to go public on the 9th of December. Affecting change in the now-known versions is nigh impossibly until then. But sometimes controversial proposals are leaked to test them – if there is no protest, the plan can be unworriedly pursued.
It is hence even more important to become active now! Tell the Commission that pursuing the introduction of ancillary copyright law means barking up the wrong tree – no matter whether it is introduced as a privilege, or a restriction to free linking is enacted. Do not allow the vested interests of the publishers’ lobby to destroy free communication on the Internet! Remind your representatives of them having rejected such approaches to introduce ancillary copyright laws with clear majorities in the past. Many representatives are worried about the competitiveness of European companies – explain to them that liability for linking brings incalculable risks with it for the European IT-industry and threatens to nip innovation in the bud! Encourage them to make clear once and for all:
Stop breaking the Internet!