MEPs Julia Reda (Greens/EFA, Germany), Marietje Schaake (ALDE, Netherlands), Brando Benifei (S&D, Italy) and Dan Dalton (ECR, United Kingdom) joined forces today to reject the European Commission’s proposal for a new extra copyright for European news websites. Commission President Juncker is expected to announce the plan in his State of the Union address on Wednesday.
This plan would break the internet as we know it. The way people share news online today – by posting a link that includes a short snippet or image from the article – would be made illegal unless a licence had been previously agreed.
This retrograde proposal would spell disaster for freedom of expression on the internet and for European startups’ ability to compete. On top of that, it will backfire for publishers: If we effectively erect a paywall in front of links to European news sites, internet platforms and users will just avoid sharing them. We may even see geoblocking of links: ‘This link is not available in your country’ could become a common sight.
We all value journalism – but attempting to charge search engines and social networks for the privilege of sending visitors to news sites will do no good. European startups, unable to pay the new licence fees, will be collateral damage of this attack on diversity and consumer choice.
This idea already failed spectacularly in Germany and Spain – it’s incredible that the Commission is still trying to push it through. The European Parliament has rejected the idea in resolutions before – it must do so again now. MEPs who understand the importance of an open internet are coming together across party lines to defend the freedom to link.
According to drafts seen by the MEPs, the proposed rules would apply even to 20-year-old news articles. No exemption is provided for individuals or for even the shortest of extracts. The new rules would apply to anyone running a website as well as to search engines, news aggregators, social networks and many others.
The MEPs are among the 86 signatories of an open letter to European Commission President Juncker last year, asking him to stop the controversial plans.
See previous blog posts for a more detailed explanation of these plans and the disastrous copyright reform package they are part of.
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