In EFF's previous piece about a leaked European impact assessment on copyright, they described how the foreshadowed changes to European copyright law would place onerous new responsibilities on Internet platforms to scan your uploaded content on behalf of large entertainment companies. EFF also described how the changes would give news publishers a new, copyright-like veto power over the publications of snippets of text from news stories, even if these are merely by way of linking to the publisher's website.
Since then, there has been a further leak; this time, of the draft text of the Directive—that is, the new law—that the European Commission proposes to introduce to enact its plans. The new leak is mostly consistent with the impact assessment, but with a little more detail. In particular, we learn that the new veto power (or "link tax") for news publishers over the online publication of snippets would last for 20 years from the date of publication of the news story.
Here EFF runs down some of the other proposed changes, including new rules to facilitate access to television broadcasts online, new copyright exceptions for education, data mining, and archival, and new measures to broaden access to out of commerce works.
Statewatch published a draft of the Commission’s own Impact assessment on the modernisation of EU copyright rules which clearly states that the Commission will indeed propose the introduction of an EU wide ancillary copyright for news publishers.
While nobody expected the EU commission to come forward with a proposal for a literal “link tax”, the “introduction in EU law of a related right covering online uses of news publications” is exactly what civil society groups like Save the Link are criticising as a link tax.
Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Therese Comodini Cachia, the Rapporteur for JURI on this file, has proposed a number of changes to the original broken and extreme proposal of the European Commission (EC). Ms Comodini has taken a reasonable approach and has amended the worst sections of the proposal: the “censorship machine” (aka upload filter) proposal in Article 13, and the suggestion to expand the “ancillary copyright” (aka “link tax”) that failed in Germany and Spain and was planned to be expanded to the entire EU.
On 11 July, two Committees in the European Parliament voted on their Opinions on European Commission’s proposal for a Copyright Directive: the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) and the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE).
This week, EFF joined Creative Commons, Wikimedia, Mozilla, EDRi, Open Rights Group, and sixty other organizations in signing an open letter addressed to Members of the European Parliament expressing our concerns about two key proposals for a new European "Digital Single Market" Directive on copyright.
These are the "value gap" proposal to require Internet platforms to put in place automatic filters to prevent copyright-infringing content from being uploaded by users (Article 13) and the equally misguided "link tax" proposal that would give news publishers a right to compensation when snippets of the text of news articles are used to link to the original source (Article 11).