The European Union’s proposed Copyright Directive will be heading to a vote in the European parliament on 20 June, as pressure mounts from tech giants and data rights groups to fight its supposedly blanket terms.
Under the provisions of the new Directive, any service that allows users to post text, sound, or video for public consumption must also implement an automatic filter to scan for similarities to known copyrighted works, censoring those that match.
It aims to modernise copyright laws for the internet era, enabling interested parties like record labels to claim back some of the revenue they say has been lost by existing “safe harbour” liability privileges for streaming sites like Youtube.
A recent report from music industry body IFPI suggested that Youtube returned less than €0.65 for each music user to record companies in 2017, compared to Spotify’s average of €17 per user.
However the Directive, and in particular Article 13, has internet users across the board up in arms over its potentially restrictive attitude towards data freedom.
Creator of the worldwide web Tim Berners-Lee, and Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales among others have signed a letter to European parliament president Antonio Tajani in protest of the proposal, describing the Article 13 as “a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users”.
Others, like director of European affairs at Allied For Startups Lenard Koschwitz, have more scathingly called it a “carpet bomb” for its unspecific approach to mandatory upload filters, adding that the proposal fundamentally misses its aim.
The letter to Tajani goes on to say that the new law could do “substantial” damage to the business models of platforms both large and small that would need to invest in the creation of such filters, as well as the internet itself. Indeed, it could spell the end of open collaboration sources like Wikipedia, and code-repository Github which was recently bought by Microsoft for €6.5bn.
Analysis published by Create, a body set up by UK research councils for the creative industry, has said that the Article is in contravention to previous European Court of Justice statements against general monitoring. Instead, it recommends a more cautious approach should be taken.