The unelected bureaucrats at the European Union are in the process of destroying the web and social media as we know it. In the not too far distant future, we may be obliged to use other technologies to post news and commentary—for instance, a mimeograph machine.
If the EU Copyright Directive, Article 13, becomes law, the following small quote will be illegal.
In response to the campaign, a European Commission spokesperson told Sky News: “The idea behind our copyright proposals is that people should be able to make a living from their creative ideas.”
Are EU apparatchiks really interested in making sure artists, musicians, and writers get paid for their work? Hardly. The law is designed to control the internet and shut down what faceless bureaucrats decide you shouldn’t see. It is also a mechanism that will allow large corporations to squeeze every last penny out of content producers. For long as anybody can remember, content producers have used fair use to quote from copyrighted sources.
Only the most antagonistic of rightsholders would view memes as a destructive force pushing creators into poverty. But the EU’s proposal takes exactly this hard line: it wants platforms to treat every bit of copyrighted material being uploaded as infringing by default. This won’t just bankrupt smaller tech companies and make millions of users miserable. It will also do serious damage to internet communications in general, pushing platforms towards restricting users’ interactions with the service, either by limiting their ability to post content or by suspending/deleting accounts for alleged Article 13 violations. The law is stupid and dangerous. Far too often, so is the EU.
If this law passes and social media and websites are forced to pay tribute to corporations for what is now fair use—quoting a source in a blog entry like this—it will be the end of the internet as we know it.
I quote corporate news sources every day. But if the EU has its way, quoting a source will not only be illegal, so will hyperlinking to it.
In the future, those of us who write political commentary may be forced to seek out low tech alternatives, such as a mimeograph machine or photocopier.
But this too will be illegal since the same rules apply to printed material.
It looks like we may eventually be forced to use the samizdat method of communication—producing content in secret and passing it from reader to reader as it was done in the Soviet Union.