#ICYMI: Europe approved the disastrous Internet copyright directive last week

Europe just voted to wreck the internet, spying on everything and censoring vast swathes of our communications. Cory Doctorow @ Boing Boing, Wednesday:

Lobbyists for “creators” threw their lot in with the giant entertainment companies and the newspaper proprietors and managed to pass the new EU Copyright Directive by a hair’s-breadth this morning, in an act of colossal malpractice to harm to working artists will only be exceeded by the harm to everyone who uses the internet for everything else.

Here’s what the EU voted in favour of this morning:

  • Upload filters: Everything you post, from short text snippets to stills, audio, video, code, etc will be surveilled by copyright bots run by the big platforms. They’ll compare your posts to databases of “copyrighted works” that will be compiled by allowing anyone to claim copyright on anything, uploading thousands of works at a time. Anything that appears to match the “copyright database” is blocked on sight, and you have to beg the platform’s human moderators to review your case to get your work reinstated.
  • Link taxes: You can’t link to a news story if your link text includes more than a single word from the article’s headline. The platform you’re using has to buy a license from the news site, and news sites can refuse licenses, giving them the right to choose who can criticise and debate the news.
  • Sports monopolies: You can’t post any photos or videos from sports events – not a selfie, not a short snippet of a great goal. Only the “organisers” of events have that right. Upload filters will block any attempt to violate the rule.

Here’s what they voted against:

  • “Right of panorama”: the right to post photos of public places despite the presence of copyrighted works like stock arts in advertisements, public statuary, or t-shirts bearing copyrighted images. Even the facades of buildings need to be cleared with their architects (not with the owners of the buildings).
  • User generated content exemption: the right to use small excerpt from works to make memes and other critical/transformative/parodical/satirical works.

Also:

The entertainment industry figures who said that universal surveillance and algorithmic censorship were necessary for the continuation of copyright have done more to discredit copyright than all the pirate sites on the internet combined. People like their TV, but they use their internet for so much more.

It’s like the right-wing politicians who spent 40 years describing roads, firefighting, health care, education and Social Security as “socialism,” and thereby created a generation of people who don’t understand why they wouldn’t be socialists, then. The copyright extremists have told us that internet freedom is the same thing as piracy. A generation of proud, self-identified pirates can’t be far behind. When you make copyright infringement into a political act, a blow for freedom, you sign your own artistic death-warrant.

Also: My interview with Cory just prior to the vote, on Light Reading: Why Euro Regs Threaten Internet ‘Extinction’

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