As we have explained previously, a proposed EU copyright directive is causing LOTS of controversies online, with many people saying that it marks the “end of the internet” and the “end of memes”, especially in relation to Article 11 and Article 13. You can check the post here and learn more about its the context of creation, what this directive brings and why it has caused so much uproar.
In today’s post, we will continue to talk about this project, which has the potential to greatly affect how we use the internet, content sharing platforms, and social networks, with special emphasis on Article 11. Let’s go?
What is the EU’s Article 11?
Article 11 is part of the new European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, which aims to bring copyright laws into the digital age. Its main goal is to make large platforms and social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Youtube, more liable and responsible for the content available in them.
Popularly known as the “link tax,” Article 11 mandates that news aggregators such as Google News compensate authors and media outlets “fairly and proportionately” for the snippets or excerpts from the stories that appear in them as a preview.
That sounds kind of abstract, doesn’t it? To make the case clearer, take a look at the image below. Google, positioning itself against Article 11, created it to show what their search page would look like if the policy were to be approved and implemented: only the page name and address would be visible, but not the headlines, images, and summaries – which would be considered copyrighted content. The platform would only be able to display these materials if it paid for them.
And why would it be so bad?
This measure, however, as we explained in the post about Article 13, would ultimately benefit only the largest news outlets. This is because aggregators such as Google News are likely to find as a solution the partnering up with the major news channels, and will continue to disclose them in the normal way.
Smaller channels, however, would hardly be relevant enough for such an agreement – which would mean that their content would no longer be displayed, limiting independent journalism and consumer choice.
Google’s own VP of News has said that Article 11 “will have unintended consequences for smaller news publishers, limit innovation in journalism and reduce choice for European consumers,” as “search engines, news aggregators, apps, and platforms would have to put commercial licenses in place, and make decisions about which content to include on the basis of those licensing agreements and which to leave out”. With this, “companies like Google will be put in the position of picking winners and losers”.
How can Article 11 affect YOU?
As Article 11 is directed at news aggregators and websites, it may seem that it doesn’t have that much power to affect us. However, it can have an indirect impact on our lives, especially by limiting the amount of information available to us. As large platforms are hardly likely to enter into agreements to publish the content of smaller outlets, our access to them, and consequently to new types of media and viewpoints, can be reduced.
Oh, and a clarification here: although a lot of people out there are saying that Article 11 will prevent ordinary people, like you and me, from sharing links, that’s most likely an exaggeration. The policy is applicable to websites and aggregators that link content for COMMERCIAL PURPOSES, so if you find some cool piece of news and send it to your friend, you won’t have to pay, since that would be a private and non-commercial use.
Is Article 11 already in force?
No, and its future is still uncertain. The revised version of the original text did not reach consensus in the European Council on the 18th, being rejected by 11 countries.
In any case, even if the directive is adopted, it will only set the parameters for each European country, which in turn has to change its own internal legislation – that is, even if it becomes valid, it may take some time before it is actually implemented.
Interested in other copyright issues? So don’t miss our posts on copyright and blockchain, copyright on books, how online content producers can protect themselves from plagiarism and blockchain uses in the music industry.