European Commission resurrects an unkillable stupid: the link tax

Meghan writes, "You've probably never been kept awake at night worrying about a European Commission communication. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't be. Today the Commission published its roadmap for EU copyright reform, and despite the fanfare around portability of Netflix, it's clear that the bad idea known as 'ancillary copyright' has come back — from the dead! — to haunt us."

It seems that the Commission is attempting to draw a distinction between sharing just a URL (, and sharing a link with a previewing snippet of text. This ignores the obvious fact that by-and-large Internet users rely on that explanatory snippet to decide whether to click on a link. As Save the Link network member IGEL puts it:

If this "snippeting" is made subject to copyright law, this would be the end to effective linking. It would be the end to tweeting and sharing news on Facebook and many other ways to exchange information online!

Copyright rapporteur and MEP Julia Reda has also pointed out the absurdity of this idea on multiple occasions, and when her report went to a vote in Parliament earlier this year, we saw a firm rejection of amendments that suggested ancillary copyright. In her response to today's copyright communication, Reda says:

The Parliament explicitly rejected calling for an ancillary copyright law for press publishers – a 'Google snippet fee' – in the Reda Report. It's unjustifiable to see this misguided idea, which backfired in Germany and Spain, pop up yet again in the Commission's plans. Commissioner Oettinger has to realise: You can't fix a bad idea by implementing it more widely.

The bad idea that just got worse: how today's European #copyright plans will damage the Internet [Meghan Sali/Open Media]

(Image: Wahlkampfbus Oettinger, Tohma, public domain)