Link Tax, 'Censorship Machines' Pass EU Committee Vote

The highly criticized European Union copyright reform proposal has passed the JURI Committee on Legal Affairs vote. That means means the bill will now advance through the EU Council (made up of heads of national governments) and European Parliament (EP), which will negotiate the law further.

Article 11, 13 Remain In The EU Copyright Reform

By far the most criticized articles by activists and other EU politicians have been Article 11 and Article 13. Article 11 refers to the so-called “link-tax,” which will require sites that link to news stories to pay the original authors.

Although this may sound like a good idea in theory, chances are high that the result will be what happened in Spain and Germany, where similar copyright law changes passed: sites simply stopped referring traffic to the publishers that wanted to be paid for the links or excerpts from their stores.

Article 13 is about the so-called “censorship machines,” officially called “upload filters.” The EU politicians who drafted this proposal would like all online platforms to have filters that can block and remove copyrighted content as soon as it’s posed by anyone on their site. Failing to do that would make them liable to copyright violations.

As we’ve seen recently, even YouTube, which has one of the most advanced upload filters there is, often mistakes legitimate content for copyright violations. Furthermore, we typically learn only about high-profile cases, not about the day-to-day censorship of less popular YouTube channels.

What’s Next?

On July 2, the EP will vote on whether or not the negotiations with the EU Council will begin. That means it would also be the perfect time for activists to stop the new copyright proposal dead in its tracks.

Otherwise, the EP will start negotiations with the EU Council later this fall, and then the final draft bill will be up for a vote in the EP around the end of this year or start of 2019. Previously, anti-copyright activists were able to stop the ACTA copyright treaty with the U.S. by convincing enough Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to vote against it in the final vote.

It remains to be seen whether or not Article 11 and Article 13 of the new copyright law will see a similar fate. If you want to make your voice heard to your MEP, you can call and email them.

Lucian Armasu
Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers software news and the issues surrounding privacy and security.