The European Parliament has been cooking this for about two years, and now it has finally come out of the woordwork. Article 13 is the new legislation linked to the copyright directive.
Article 13 is the newest installment in the crackdown on copyright infringement, and dictates that those uploading content to the internet should have permission from copyright holders, or at least be able to demonstrate that they’ve tried to.
This includes movies, TV shows, music, and images, but also memes, screenshots, and gifs. A blanket of online content.
Many tech companies are against it, saying that freedom of expression is at risk, and that the legislation is restrictive and overbearing.
Facebook and YouTube have been trying their hands at pre=screening content that is uploaded, but are still far from achieving 100% accuracy. Mistakes are made, and the algorithms are often 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.
The foundation said 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 part of 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.
Considering that the EU has put years of thought into this directive, you can be sure they’re going to fiercely enforce it.
Article 13 will impose increased censorship on European internet users.