The EU Parliament has voted the copyright directive through to the next stage bringing it nearer to becoming law.


Strange isn't it? All those Remainers out there telling us, with absolutely no real data to back it up, that Brexit will destroy the country – but at the same time they are either silent or oblivious as to the imminent EU-led destruction of the internet on which so many people now rely.

The European Parliament voted last week to approve the new copyright directive laws, with some amendments.

The idea behind the new laws is to ensure that creators are paid properly for their creative efforts. So it's no surprise to learn that those like Paul McCartney are right behind them and Impala, the association for European independent music companies, said this was "a great day for Europe's creators".

However, many critics say the rules are more likely to shut the internet down than anything else.

The copyright directive critics claim two of the main culprits in this are the Article 11 so called news source link tax and Article 13, which basically turns companies that receive uploaded content for publishing on the web, into copyright police using upload filters or equivalent to block copyright infringing material.

First to Article 11. This is designed to ensure that 'news sources' don't have their work ripped off by scrapers and news aggregators that channel traffic through their own site either before, or instead of people going to the source work. This the argument goes, should foster quality journalism.

The idea then, is that anyone using even the smallest part of press material would need a paid licence from the original source owner to publish it on the web.

But it's more constraining than that. Hyperlinks and individual words that describe the article will not be charged for, but using two consecutive words from the headline for example might be.

Now, this could well be a problem for the likes of Google, Twitter and Facebook who, when one of its users wants to spread a story, usually link with a hyperlink, a thumbnail picture, the headline and some selected text – and that happens millions of times a day with the same link. So Google, Twitter and Facebook would have the choice of paying huge sums to press publications or cutting out the stuff that actually attracts the click-throughs. And if they didn't bother how would newspapers spread their news? After all, people do not click on hyperlinks unless they know what they're likely to get, do they? And what about RSS feeds?

Sounds like a great way to kill mainstream news on the web doesn't it?

Unless of course, people do what they always do and gravitate to the big outlets they like and then become effectively a captive audience of the big players.

But as The Verge points out:

"In Spain, for example, in 2014, a law was passed that forced publishers to charge news aggregators for sharing snippets. Google reacted by shutting down Google News; local aggregators couldn’t afford the fees and collapsed; and overall traffic to sites fell by as much as 15 percent.

"A similar opt-in law was passed in Germany in 2013. Google reacted by dropping sites who wouldn’t let their content be shared for free and again, traffic fell and publishers bent the knee."

Now let's get all moral and ask if the web is there to spread information, or make money for big news outlets – discuss.

Now on to Article 13. This is designed to force those who publish material on the web to have it checked for copyright problems prior to release, the idea being to ensure that those who create and invest in the production of content have a say in whether and how their content is made available by online platforms and get paid for their content.

This will be done by computers scanning your uploaded text, videos, images and code if you write it.

Now cutting to the chase, you upload a video to YouTube of your family having a good time, but in the background a well known song was playing on the radio – will that video be filtered out and blocked by a mindless machine when it analyses the tune?

Or, you write your own music that sounds a bit like another work, does that get filtered out?

You do a parody of something using part of a well known tune, does that get filtered out?

You take a picture of your granddaughter in Disneyworld hugging Mickey Mouse, will that get flagged as copyright infringement?

Now there are claims that the new wording of the Directive doesn't mean you have to use upload filters, but some form of technology checking it at some stage after upload.

But it will still be an algorithm that is in charge and anyone who went through the YouTube 'adpocalypse', where videos were demonetised of ad revenue because they had the words battle, war or terrorist in them for example will know exactly what to expect here. Especially early on when the algorithms are screwed down so tight that just about nothing can wriggle through.

And of course once you've got those types of algorithms in place for copyright, censorship will not be far behind.

Now, I will add another worry into the mix where Article 11 and the news is concerned.

The directive covers the whole EU and also those that want their internet reach to go into the EU. So the likes of Google will probably want to do some sort of business with the press and they will have the financial clout to do some sort of deal, but will the smaller search engines be frozen out of this? How will they be protected?

Also, if Google does pay the so called link tax, they will want to treat it as money invested and make more money in return from it – how will that affect users? Will internet service providers and ultimately consumers somehow be brought into the charging chain to pay for it?

Then there's the issue of who is a news source that can charge? And who decides who those news sources are? Will there have to a proper list of accredited internet news sources in each country? Who will monitor that list and how much will it cost to be on that list? Will there have to be a new government quango for it?

What criteria will you have to meet to be considered as a news source that can charge? Who will decide? How far to the left will you have to prove your publication leans before you can charge?

And how about the small players that break important news?

Then of course, where will Auntie Beeb sit in all of this?

The directive has now gone to trilogue, which are talks between the EU parliament, the EU commission and the EU council to thrash out the final text.

I personally think the end result of this directive coupled with GDPR, will cause a lot of damage and push many smaller players to the wall and out of the internet, leaving only the biggest and wealthiest behind – but some, if not all, of those may end up as mere shadows of their former selves.

Will we see the strangulation of digital and an increase of TV, radio, cinema and print? In the European Union anyway.

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