European Commission wants to break the web, give publishers the right to charge for inbound links

The European Commission's "copyright modernisation" plan is an unmitigated disaster, but there's one particularly insane section of it that I want to call your attention to: the "link tax," which entitles publishers to payment when people link to them on the internet.



Fundamentally, this is the insane idea that companies own the information about where they and their assets are located, a shitty idea that we've been making fun of since 2001, which the elected European Parliament has repeatedly rejected, which experiments in Germany and Spain have shown to be a disaster.

But the unelected, thoroughly captured bureaucrats of the European Commission refuse to let go of this ridiculous plan.


Internet people are mobilising on Twitter under the #savethelink hashtag, where you can contribute your thoughts on this regressive, absurd notion.

Oettinger’s insistence that end users sharing links will not be affected is an attempt at misdirection. Links posted to social networks today automatically include a snippet from the linked article, which the proposal would undeniably make subject to licensing for 20 years after publication. No exception is provided for individuals. Accordingly, this proposal would make posting a link to an article from 1996 to Facebook illegal without a licence. Oettinger’s denial was even belied by President Juncker’s State of the Union speech, in which he called for revenues for news publishers ‘whether [their content] is published via a copying machine or hyperlinked on the web.’

The Parliament has rejected this idea multiple times in its resolutions on the Digital Single Market. It must do so again. Already, MEPs from all political groups are coming together to voice their opposition.

Additional plans to impose new obligations on sites hosting user-uploaded content also threaten both European startups and community-based platforms such as Wikipedia. In a disappointing reversal of Vice President Ansip’s previous announcements, the discriminatory practice of geoblocking is here to stay – digital borders will continue to turn away Europeans ready to pay from video on demand services based in other member states. The voices of half a million Europeans who demanded freedom of panorama across the EU have also been ignored.

Despite denials, copyright reform plans by European Commission are an attack on the freedom to link
[Julia Reda/EU]