The EU Just Broke The Internet And Started A War With Pirates

Earlier this morning the EU voted in favor of the Copyright Directive, a controversial update to copyright laws. Publishers are hailing this as a victory, but the rest of the internet has no comment, because it is in the hospice, dying.

The battle lines are drawn on two key provisions: Articles 11 and 13. Called the "link tax" and the "upload filter" by people who don't have their head up their ass, it would force companies like Google and Facebook to pay publishers whenever they link to stories. The upload filter would force Google and Facebook to block people from sharing unlicensed copyrighted news stories, songs, videos, and memes.

Some publishing companies are hailing this as a big win for the little guys, ignoring the fact that IF PEOPLE CAN'T LINK TO YOUR STORIES, NOBODY WILL COME READ YOUR STORIES. According to them, newspapers might finally get paid for journalisming (HARD TO DO WITHOUT PEOPLE READING IT), musicians could move out of their parents' basements (yeah, we don't know, that probably is right), and porn stars wouldn't have to slap politicians on the ass with copies of Forbes to pay the bills. The publishers say that tech companies are just whining because they're finally being held accountable for stealing and sharing content (even if it's already free), and implying that they actually intend to pay artists and journalists.

Since the internet is mostly porn, terrible memes, and bootlegs, nerds are raising their Jolly Rogers and declaring war. They argue that vague provisions in the sweeping new law make it unclear how people can continue to share news articles, blog posts, and bad jokes. There are real fears that the upload filters will cripple the careers of freelance photojournalists, artists, and computer coders who rely on the magic of the internet to share their work and earn beer money.

Where (some) publishing companies see this as a move to finally tamp town on the scourge of internet piracy, actual internet pirates are laughing their caffeinated asses off. When link tax legislation passed in Spain, Google simply pulled their news service. When Germany tried a similar tax on content, people just gave their content to Google for free. And as anyone in China can tell you, content filtering only hurts the general public and encourages people to avoid filters. This often pushes legitimate content deep into the wretched butthole of the Dark Web where it's hard to simply browse the web like you'd channel surf TV late at night.

The effects of the law are broad and prove that people do not have the interest of users in mind. Want to read your favorite snarky news brief? Sorry, the Wonkagenda violates the "link tax." How about listening to classical music and reading old books? Copyrighted, even if it's public domain. Want to download old school Nintendo and Sega games for your kids? Fuck your kids, tell those little shits to come correct! Would you like to browse photos of that big anti-Trump protest? Go have a tough titty pity party, those photos have billboard ads, logos, and branded pink pussy hats -- all copyrighted.

The Copyright Directive isn't up for final approval until January, but it's expected to pass without much resistance. The European Pirate Party has called the law "catastrophic," and is vowing to fight the bill alongside tech giants and internet advocacy groups like the EFF, and the Mozilla Foundation. Americans may scoff at a fight for internet rights in Europe, but they'd be wise to remember that just last week congressional Republicans called for the strict regulation of the internet under the guise of free speech.

Bottom line: the fight isn't about making dick jokes and memes, it's about the freedom to share dick jokes and memes. And since everything is terrible, here's a baby pygmy hippo.

[Cory Doctorow / Ars Technica / The Verge]

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Dominic Gwinn

Dominic is a broke journalist in Chicago. You can find him in a dirty bar talking to weirdos, or in a gutter taking photos.


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