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European copyright directive will impose link tax to subsidize publishers

By Greg S · 7 replies
Apr 11, 2018
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  1. A majority of copyright laws in effect today were written before Internet access was widespread and a necessity for everyday life. The European Parliament passed a slightly more modern action called the European Copyright Directive in 2001. Considering the vast changes and capabilities for sharing works, there is an on going push to update the law.

    Admittedly, there is no single system that all parties are going to agree on. However, there is one section of a new proposal by German member of the European Parliament Axel Voss that should be extremely concerning to all that value an open internet. Part of the proposal includes language that would implement a "link tax" that requires a fee be paid by websites to publishers so that quotes can be used and attributed.

    The link tax would be mandatory and publishers would be required to collect the fee from all sites using their work. As an inalienable right, there would be no option to waive the fee for non-profit organizations, small businesses, personal blogs, or other groups that may not have a lot of money to spend on quoting recognized news sources.

    Spain has already passed a similar link tax. Google News was the largest casualty of the legislation. Instead of opting to pay millions of dollars for displaying snippets from websites, Google simply shut down its Spanish news search business.

    Another article introduces a mandate that would require internet services to monitor user uploaded content for potentially illegal works. This section is mainly targeted towards video and photo sharing websites, but is not limited in scope. Platforms such as Github or Wikipedia would also be required to check every single user-made change to their sites under the proposal.

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Mozilla are both advocating against the link tax and uploaded content filtering sections of the European Copyright Directive revision. Mozilla has gone as far as writing a prepared script and provides a way to call members of the European Parliament.

    Permalink to story.

  2. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,564   +1,443

    OUCH!!! Big black eye on this idea! The concept of
    is contrary to the "fair use" concept of (c) Copyrights as well as Berners-Lee's concept for a Semantic Web.

    Fair Use:
    as defined in https://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/fair-use/what-is-fair-use/
    (and lifting that comment is an example of Fair Use as well).

    Semantic Web:
    as seen in https://www.techrepublic.com/article/an-introduction-to-tim-berners-lees-semantic-web/

    This proposal is an thinly veiled effort to monetize unproductive websites. Verifying uploads of videos and music is entirely different problem than asserting that Data should have a Cost associated with it. Taken to its ultimate end, Free versions of documents would totally disappear from HTTP (as every link would be taxed) and the academic world would regress to the Gopher & FTP protocols to exchange information (protocols prior to HTTP and the web as we now know it).

    Don't know about you, but when surfing the web, I come across sites that want a subscriptions for access, and as it's seldom that a document or some information ONLY exists in one place, I punt and go elsewhere - - yeah, I'm retired, cheap and living on SSI.

    Well all know that information is power -- monetizing access to it would recreate the Caste, medieval Feudalism and the Aristocracy systems for information control.

    IMO, the unintended consequence of a "link tax" is regressive in more ways than one.
    mbrowne5061 likes this.
  3. FF222

    FF222 TS Addict Posts: 150   +89

    Wrong. This is an effort to stop the parasitic aggregator sites from siphoning off profit from the web economy, which they do contribute nothing to, but try to reap all the rewards for.

    Most aggregator and sharing sites are direct competitors (for ex. on the market of advertisements) of original content creators and publishers, and make tons of money from the work of the latter, without paying anything back and contributing to their efforts. They generate no content on their own, just monetize the content created by others. Because of that they have lower - if any - costs, and can undercut the actual content creators with their prices.

    Calling this a "link tax" is obviously an attempt to frame this something it isn't, because this is obviously neither a tax (but a fee, payable between two commercial entities), nor something that's to be paid on linking, but rather on re-using and re-packaging content generated by others.

    It might not be a perfect solution, but is the first step in the right direction to get and force the parasitic entities of the web (which include Facebook, Google Search, and practically all other content sharing and aggregating services) to actually pay the real content creators for their work, that they make their money off.
  4. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,663   +593

    How can I make money on this? That's as far as I care
  5. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,564   +1,443

    For audio & video I would agree and that has to stop.

    But consider WiKi; there's a ton of good textual information contributed to the site. This kind of information sharing is a primary necessity in the information age. YouTube, Facebook & Twitter are commercial enterprises and inconsequential {except to DJT, but then he's only a producer, not a consumer :sigh: } If IP needs to be protected on this kind of site, fine with me.

    Publishers like New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Mercury News {Silicon Valley} (and others) have had to move to online publishing to keep their doors open. News papers have been fee based for hardcopy since Gutenberg and there's no reason to gripe about online publishing.

    Protecting Intellectual Property(IP) is a different problem than closing doors for online linking to supporting information.
  6. FF222

    FF222 TS Addict Posts: 150   +89

    This is not about textual or non-textual information, or about sharing information. It's about sharing actual copyrighted works or content word-by-word. That's why the "news agencies will have monopoly on facts" argument doesn't fly either.

    Facts are non-copyrightable, and there's nothing in this proposal that would change that. There's also nothing in it that would in any sense hinder the sharing of information. What it actually about is 1. an actual piece of text, as it is, word by word (which you usually call a quote, even though it's not marked as such by said aggregator sites), 2. imposing a fee on commercial usage and aggregation of such pieces.

    So, for one, anyone would still be free to for ex. report on any news event, without having to pay this fee, as long as they're not using someone else's work directly for this. So, if they'd describe the events with their own words and not just copy-pasting someone else's article piece (or title, or summary), that would be obviously not subject to said fee.

    It would also not hinder and prohibit the sharing of any information, even with the copy-paste method. It would just however impose a fee on that, to ensure that the original content creators get paid for their work.

    Actually, that's how things have always worked, and that how they should work. Authors get paid by publishers, photographers get paid by whoever is using their photos. Composers get paid by performers using their work to make money.

    It's just on the internet where people think it's just fine to take someone else's work, re-publish it and slap some ads on it, and make a lot of money from that, while not paying anything to the original creators. That's how Google works, that's how Facebook works, and that's what the business model of most internet giants is.

    This new European law is supposed to stop this abuse of content creators and copyright, and it's an attempt to ensure that original content creators get paid for their work. Nothing more, nothing less.

    And it's definitely not about imposing any fee on linking per se, or prohibition on sharing of information or knowledge. On the contrary: it's about ensuring the proliferation of content and knowledge. It's about ensuring that content creators keep creating content, through enabling them to earn a living off that, and through making sure that it will be not the freeloaders who will reap the rewards of the creators' work.
  7. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,564   +1,443

    As a programmer,I am sensitive to IP issues and as a result, have always paid for Software, Video and Music. Heck, my cell is loaded with 2GB of paid music - - about 3x at home.

    Didn't comment on Facts per se, but on the simplistic fee-for-link concept as noted in the article which was imprecise by the way.
    Fair Use still covers that, and concepts can not be (c) either
    small textual copy/paste is still allowed - - just not massive sections nor to avoid attribution
    and that needs to be fixed
    We both are at the mercy of someones vague summarization IMO we both see the necessity for change in protecting IP. As most knee jerk reactions, I hope there is NO unintended consequences and persons with Internet experiences are involved in framing the new protection regulations.
  8. FF222

    FF222 TS Addict Posts: 150   +89

    That's exactly what this law proposal is about. Fair Use is a good thing, but it's designed for a different age and with different usage patterns in mind. Aggregator and sharing sites are abusing the Fair Use loophole, and this law intends to fix that. The other way would be to abolish Fair Use as it is, but that's not what the EU wants. That's why it's stupid to write articles like this, which purport the proposal to be exactly that, when in fact it's actually the very opposite. It's about preserving Fair Use, while at the same time also stopping bad actors from systematically abusing it.

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