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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

European Union Internet Policy: Fix It Til It's Broke

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Unless you're the EU, in which case, fix it til it's broke!

EU Toys With Blowing Up the Internet as We Know It

Members of the European Parliament have voted to advance legislation that could have a disastrous effect on the internet as we know it.

Changes to the EU's Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, which were approved by committee members on Wednesday, contain an article that would force platforms to pay a "link tax" to publishers whose content is linked on their services, and another that would force publishers to install automated filters to prevent the uploading of copyrighted material.

Article 11, the "link tax," grows out of experiments in Germany and Spain that are ostensibly designed to give local publishers a cut of the profit that giant American companies like Google and Facebook make by advertising against the links and snippets of text their users post. The rule has had disastrous and counterproductive effects where it has been implemented. In Spain, the legislation caused Google News to pull out of the country entirely. Further studies show that the law caused a $10 million loss to the industry, primarily shouldered by smaller publishers that relied on the tech giants for distribution.

This new incarnation, which would cover all of the EU's 28 member countries (with specific details of implementation left up to each individual country) would make it more difficult for publishers to simply pull out of Europe entirely, but likely not without additional collateral damage. Publishers, who will take a considerable hit if they lose access to giant platforms, would have an incentive to perhaps cut some sort of deal with behemoths like Facebook or Google.

Read the rest at Popular Mechanics.

The End of All That's Good and Pure About the Internet

We regret to inform you that the internet is on red alert once again. On Wednesday, the EU’s Legislative Committee voted to adopt sweeping measures that will upend the web in every way that we know it. Memes, news, Wikipedia, art, privacy, and the creative side of fandom are all at risk of being destroyed or kneecapped.

By the time Americans woke up on Wednesday, the Legislative Committee had voted on the final form of the EU Copyright Directive—the first major update to European copyright law since 2001. Much of what’s in the legislation has been met with approval, but Article 11 and Article 13 are considered disastrous by some of the foremost tech experts in the world.

Explaining what’s wrong with these two points of the legislation in detail is difficult because the articles themselves are so vague. That’s the primary issue for critics. Both articles make unprecedented demands on anyone operating a popular website to monitor copyrighted material and to pay fees to news organizations when linking out to their articles. Defenders of the plan say that critics are exaggerating because of assumptions they’re making about how the legislation will be implemented. Critics, like one of the “fathers of the internet,” Vint Cerf, and the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, say the risks outweigh the benefits. Who are you going to believe?

Let’s take a look at what’s at stake with these new forthcoming regulations:

Read the rest at Gizmodo.

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