lecture: Copywrongs 2.0

We must prevent EU copyright reform from breaking the internet


EU copyright reform plans threaten freedom of expression: Commissioner Günther Oettinger wants to make sharing even the tiniest snippets of news content subject to costly licensing, and obligate internet platforms to monitor all user uploads. We can still stop these proposals – if you join the fight now.

Two years ago, I laid out the urgent need for EU copyright reform at 31c3. Now the reform proposal is finally on the table – but Commissioner Oettinger has let big business interests hijack it.

Instead of updating copyright law to better fit the digital age, he wants to try to use it to make the internet fit the established business models of analogue industry giants:

• The link is under attack: Extra copyright for news sites would make most ways of sharing even 20-year-old news articles illegal without a license. Website owners, news aggregators, social networks, curation/bookmarking apps, „read later“ services, etc. would need to pay news sites for linking to with even the shortest of teaser snippets.

• Internet platforms would be obligated to scan all user uploads for copyright infringements – a huge burden on community projects like Wikipedia as well as EU startups. Because robots are bad at evaluating when copyright exceptions apply, lots of legal works would be taken down.

• The new copyright exception for text and data mining would restrict the freedom to do so to public institutions. Hackers and amateur scientists would be left out in the cold.

• The proposals leave discriminatory geoblocking and restrictions on the freedom of panorama here to stay.

We must stop these proposals from harming the internet. I’ll lay out how you can help.