Paris, 12 January 2017 — A group of MEPs of all political orientations, including Julia Reda, representative of the Pirate Party, calls on citizens to mobilize to prevent the introduction of dangerous measures in European copyright reform. Their campaign “Save the Link!” aims to preserve our ability to share information on the Internet, by preserving the freedom to make hypertext links and preventing widespread automated filtering of contents. La Quadrature du Net calls for support of this campaign to prevent the copyright reform from leading to further incursion on our freedoms.
The analysis of these MEPs aligns with those that La Quadrature du Net published on the draft of the new European directive on copyright proposed by the Comission last September, which will soon be discussed by various comittees of the European Parliament. Two measures in particular raise serious concern among defenders of fundamental freedoms.
The first aims to create a new “ancillary right” for editors to “re-balance” their relationships with actors such as search engines (like Google News) and news aggregators. But this new extension of intellectual property is expressed so widely and vaguely in the draft directive that it will have far-reaching repercussions and will affect our ability to share information on the Internet in our everyday use.
With a duration of 20 years and applicable without exception, this ancillary right might call into question the possibility to quote excerpts from articles or to link to press websites. Hypertext link, already weakened at European level, is the crucial element of the web, guaranteeing information flow. The Save The Link! campaign aims to say “no” to this “Link Tax” which dares not say its name, and has already proved its complete ineffectiveness in European countries where it has already been introduced as legislation (Spain, Germany).
The second measure this campaign denounces a general obligation for automated content filtering that the draft directive seeks to impose on platforms. More specifically, the Comission’s text refers to websites whose content is mainly produced by users (like Youtube, DailyMotion, and Flickr, but also Wikipedia and Github). It intends to require deploying devices allowing prior control on content published online by Internet users to ensure that it does not incorporate protected works. The Save The Link! campaign condemns this idea as risking a real “censorship machine”, which aligns with La Quadrature du Net’s analysis. We have long denounced this haste toward Robocopyright already found on platforms such as Youtube, and which cause serious collateral damage. These systems turn intermediaries into “private copyright police” and put users at a disadvantage in defending their freedom of expression and creativity.
Not only will these two measures infringe on our liberties, but they will also be ineffective in regaining control of major centralized platforms. The European Commission shows its cowardice by taking this position on strengthening intellectual property rights, since it is at the level of taxation, the rules of competition, or personal data protection that we should act if we hope to regulate the GAFAMs.
For these reasons, La Quadrature du Net supports Save The Link! and calls on people to write to MEPs to express their opposition to these measures. It is particularly important for French citizens to mobilize, because the French government supports these proposals, and it is feared that many French MPs will do the same. But there is still time to weigh in to prevent this copyright reform from being a new pretext to make set back our freedoms.
Many associations share this point of view: