The fight over the EU's Copyright Directive was the biggest fight in European political history: more than 100,000 people marched against it in 50 cities; more than 5,000,000 people signed a petition against it, and ultimately the Directive only squeaked into law because (Jesus Fucking Christ I can't believe I'm about to type this) five Swedish MEPs got confused pressed the wrong button (seriously kill me now).
Update: The EPP has backed off of this demand and denied having made it, but Pirate MEP Julia Reda has documentary evidence that the EPP tried to sneak in this vote and only reversed the plan after a massive public outcry. — Read the rest
The Green European Journal has published a package on the proposed new European Copyright Directive: first, an outstanding interview with the rebel Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda (previously); and then a new science fiction story I've written to show what a future where our speech is governed by unaccountable black-box copyright censorbots might look like: "False Flag."
The European Union's new Copyright Directive contains two hugely controversial, poorly drafted and dangerous clauses: Article 11, which limits who can link to news articles and under which circumstances (and also bans Creative Commons licenses); and Article 13, which mandates that all platforms for public communications surveil all user posts and censor anything that matches (or partially matches) a crowdsourced, unaccountable database of allegedly copyrighted works.
When the EU's legislative committee voted last month to advance a bizarre copyright proposal that would mandate mass commercial surveillance and censorship of the internet, it was the beginning of the fight, not the end.
The passage — through MEPs erroneously pushing the wrong buttons! — of the new EU Copyright Directive last March means that online platforms operating in the EU will have to implement filters that allow anyone, anywhere, to claim anything as their copyright, whereupon the platforms will have to detect any attempt by anyone else to upload those claimed works and block them.
In six days, the EU will debate and vote on a pair of copyright regulations that constitute an extinction-level event for the internet: "censorship machines" (Article 13, forcing all user-generated text, video, photos, code, etc through copyright filters that anyone can add anything to; anything judged to be a copyrighted work is automatically censored) and "the link tax" (users are banned from linking to news stories unless the site they're linking to has sold a "linking license" to the platform the users are on).
There's a proposal in the works to replace Notre Dame's spire — which was a relatively modern addition — with a new, starchitect-designed "statement" spire, which will be copyrightable under the same French rules that prohibit commercial photos of the Eiffel Tower at night (and other French landmarks).
Yesterday, I wrote about how MEP Julia Reda resolved the mystery of how the European Parliament came to produce a batshit smear-campaign video promoting the new Copyright Directive and smearing the opposition to the Directive (including signatories to the largest petition in human history): it turned out that the video had been produced by AFP, a giant media company that stands to make millions if the Directive passes.
At the end of February, the EU Parliament released a bizarre video "explaining" the Copyright Directive, a controversial and sweeping internet regulation that has inspired more opposition than anything else in EU history.
Members of the European Parliament have been carpet-bombed with a "report" claiming that the historically unprecedented opposition to the pending Copyright Directive was the result of "US meddling in the EU lawmaking process," with 21 pages of alarming charts and figures to support this conclusion.
Julia Reda is the Member of the European Parliament who has led the fight against Article 13, a proposal to force all online services to create automatic filters that block anything claimed as a copyrighted work.
Ten days ago, the European Parliament dealt a major blow to a radical proposal that would force online services to deploy copyright bots to examine everything posted by users and block anything that might be a copyright infringement; the proposal would also ban linking to news articles without paid permission from the news sites.
In a 318 to 278 vote, the European Parliament today shot down proposals that would have made online publishers liable for users' copyright infringement and made even linking to other websites fraught with legal risk. The bill, widely reviled for its service to legacy media interests and general ignorance of the internet itself, now goes back to committee. — Read the rest
I've just published a comprehensive explainer on Medium about the EU's new Copyright Directive, which was sabotaged at the last minute, when MEP Axel Voss snuck in the long-discredited ideas of automatically censoring anything a bot thinks infringes copyright and banning unpaid links to news articles.
The EU's wide-ranging plan for indiscriminate internet censorship has progressed from a vote in the European Parliament and now reps from the EU will meet with reps from the 28 countries that make up the EU to hammer out the final text that will be put to the Parliament for what might be the final vote before it becomes law.
The new EU Copyright Directive will be up for its final vote in the week of Mar 25, and like any piece of major EU policy, it has been under discussion for many years and had all its areas of controversy resolved a year ago — but then German MEP Axel Voss took over as the "rapporteur" (steward) of the Directive and reintroduced the long-abandoned idea of forcing all online services to use filters to block users from posting anything that anyone, anywhere claimed was their copyrighted work.
On June 20, the EU's legislative committee will vote on the new Copyright directive, and decide whether it will include the controversial "Article 13" (automated censorship of anything an algorithm identifies as a copyright violation) and "Article 11" (no linking to news stories without paid permission from the site).
Though Facebook's lobbying associations spent the whole debate over the EU Copyright Directive arguing (correctly) that algorithmic filters to catch copyright infringement would end up blocking mountains of legitimate speech (while still letting through mountains of infringement), Facebook secretly told the EU Commission that it used filters all the time, had utmost confidence in them, and couldn't see any problems with their use.
For months, the European Parliament has been negotiating over a new copyright rule, with rightsholder organizations demanding that some online services implement censoring filters that prevent anyone from uploading text, sounds or images if they have been claimed by a copyright holder.