The EU Commission’s proposed copyright directive poses a threat to the internet’s fundamental interconnectedness.
The “link tax” features some of the
most impractical and extreme expansions
of copyright rules ever seen. Copyright has already been bent out of shape; the original theory was to use copyright
to protect the content creator and allow
them to make back any investment on their idea,
along with a healthy profit, over a fixed, 14 year period. However, with the current period set at 70 years, not
only are copyright laws strangling
innovation, but now these additional reforms seek to make criminals of everyone who does not pay a fee to
simply link to someone else’s work.
In short, you may soon face a charge each time
you publish a link to an article. From
individual bloggers, to large publications, big media seeks to control how we direct people online,
make citations on Wikipedia, or simply
recommend a game or movie.
But it doesn’t stop there: saving photos to
online shopping lists on sites such as
Pinterest, or sharing any news article over Facebook or Twitter aren’t in any way exempt. As it stands, there
are no exceptions for non-commercial use.
In fact, even search engines, which are
essentially a long list of links gathered
around whatever query you enter, could also be subject to the link tax.
Julia Reda, Pirate Party Germany MEP, states in
her article ‘10
everyday things on the web the EU commission wants to make illegal: Oettinger’s
“These proposals are pandering to the
demands of some news publishers to charge
search engines and social networks for sending traffic their way, as well as the music industry’s wish to be propped up
in its negotiations with YouTube.”
“These proposals will cause major
collateral damage – making many everyday
habits on the web and many services you regularly use downright illegal, subject to fees or, at the very least, mired
in legal uncertainty.”
What does this mean? By now, it’s fairly obvious
that implementing such a charge for links
would fundamentally alter the way the web works.
Should the link tax succeed, we would see a wave
of online censorship. The effects of this cannot yet be fully understood or overstated.
Perhaps the most foolish part of this bill is that it
would actually drastically harm not only
our digital economy but our “analogue” economy too. Viral promotions of movies, music or any other
product would vanish as internet users would
no longer be able to share links to movies or stores where products can be bought.
Remember how excited the internet became at the
release of Deadpool? How many
different blogs, vlogs, reviews and how many different people shared direct links to movie trailers, merchandise and other
Deadpool related promos? Now imagine that
was all subject to a link tax – it is difficult to say how drastic the impact of this would be, but it’s probably safe
to say we’d never see a Deadpool 2.