Written by: Alex Popa
The European Parliament has been cooking this for about two years now. And it was high time this got out of the woodworks, and into the world. The new legislation they’ve just passed is linked to a restrictive copyright directive called Article 13.
What Article 13 entails is this – a definitive conclusion to all the copyright infringement events happening on the internet. It dictates that all content uploaded on the internet should get permission from the copyright owners, or at least demonstrate that they’ve tried to.
This includes movies, TV shows, music, images, but also memes, screenshots, and gifs. Pretty much any type of online content, even those that no one really cares about.
Evidently, many tech companies are against it, and pretty much any other intellectually honest individual in the world thinks this harsh restriction is uncalled for. The legislation can only be put into practice through certain pre-moderation tools and filters that would screen unacceptable content from reaching the web.
Facebook and YouTube have been trying their hands at this game for quite some time now are still far from achieving 100% accuracy. Mistakes are made, and the algorithms are unable to discern between what acceptable and unacceptable.
The real concern here, one that Vint Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee, alongside the Wikimedia Foundation share, is that Article 13 would “dramatically decrease the diversity of content available online”. Well, that concern is long overdue now.
The foundation went on to say that they wouldn’t be able to support this initiative that seeks to “radically control the sharing of information online”. And that’s exactly what this is, an exaggerated attempt at policing and taking control of the world wide web.
Well, here’s a news flash for you – what we hoped wouldn’t happen, did happen.
No one is willing to accept this, least of all the small businesses that would have to spend quite a lot of money to implement the screening procedures necessary for the legislation.
To counter the initiative, Wikipedia, the German, Czech, Danish, and Slovak versions went on strike for a whole day to protest. Reddit, Twitch, and PornHub were quick to take up arms as well.
Even some US companies joined the protest because guess what? They have a lot of EU customers lining up their pockets, so there’s no way they’d let all this slide.
For tech companies, large and small, popular or unknown, Article 13 is the equivalent of a breach in the European online market. It will destabilize EU online services, disrupt the well-being of the whole internet.
No wonder everyone’s crying for blood.
Article 13 isn’t the only worrisome thing included in this directive though. A certain subsection of Article 13, dubbed Article 11, specifies that search engines and news websites will be charged for the pieces of news they’re linking to.
As if banning memes wasn’t enough to piss off half of the internet population, now they’re making demands as well. It’s no surprise that Google said it will cancel its news services from Europe if the directive is passed in its current form.
Search Engine Land gave us a peek at how the Google news results would appear in Europe if they didn’t pay the tax. And the results are pretty exemplary, to say the least – empty, white boxes.
Even the news titles appear to be fractured and incomplete, as if the results page didn’t completely load.
Indeed, that’s the future of the European internet now that this EU legislation lived to see the light of day. A grim future, wouldn’t you say?
Considering that the EU has put years of thought into this directive, you can be sure they’re going to fiercely enforce it. They will have to face the angry investors, tech companies, and pissed-off internet users though.
The directive contains many more clauses than just Articles 11 and 13, so the things will be much worse than anticipated. In any case, the situation was taken very seriously by tens of thousands of German people that made their concerns visible over the last weekend.
All those efforts were for nothing, as you can see.
One thing is clear – if even the creator of the Internet is against your directive that aims to restrict the web, then you seriously need to realize something stinks. Even some artists were against the idea, let alone small businesses, big companies, and a whole 5 million people who signed a petition.
Article 13 will impose a hellish censorship on the European internet as we know it. Nothing will be the same. Instead of the liberal informational and communicational network that we have now, only scraps will remain.
The doom-device has been activated. What comes next remains to be seen.