Comment on EU Copyright Developments and Fans (Updated)

  1. Yup, we're sure. That's why it's called the "Link Tax." You're right that it sounds bizarre, which is why nearly everyone except traditional presses (and even many of those!) have argued against it, but that hasn't stopped Parliament so far. Article 11 as approved by JURI addresses "digital use" of press publications, and the law was specifically designed to target the ability of Google News, Facebook, and other news and information aggregators and apps--exactly as you describe--to aggregate information without paying press sources. There have been proposals to exclude hyperlink-only digital uses; proposals to exclude private and noncommercial uses by individual users; and proposals to limit the "digital use" right to only "significant" snippets (a term whose definition is also highly contested), but we don't know whether any of those limitations will stick and how individual nations will interpret them if they do.

    But don't take our word for it!
    Here's some information from the EFF
    And some information from MEP Julia Reda from just before the JURI vote
    And some information from Gizmodo

    And yes, that last one is a link to a press publication. So.....

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    1. papersnape

      Hey, I wanted to thank you for your answer. I really appreciate your taking the time to clarify it.

      I live in Germany, where - as I understand the current discussion - a version of the link tax already went into effect some time ago. (Spoilers: we survived. ;-) (That doesn't mean it wasn't ugly (and expensive (lawyers!)) for a while there.))

      The issue in Art 11 (I gather) isn't that *links* would be illegal without a fee (although I do appreciate that they've been rubbish about defining what makes a 'link'), but the *snippets* that follow the link. The consequence makes a link postable, but less valuable or attractive for the user. In Germany that led to the publishers waiving their 'fees' because Google said: 'we're happy not to put you on the results page', or 'we can put this small independent source that *doesn't* want a fee higher on the results page instead' and the industry blanched and said, 'Nope! We're good, ta!' and things carried on much as they had always been. The average user didn't really seem to notice.

      Honestly, my expectation for fan stuff is we'd be better off than a small search engine in that case. We craft things with love and human volunteers. Our links collections are far more frequently curated, and wouldn't be as reliant on auto-snippet selection. (Sort of like how Yahoo results were two decades ago.) And your Gizmodo link, say, should still be valid. ;-)

      The primary problem I see there is for the user. Without the snippet, it's a lot easier to get waylaid and land on dodgy sites. (Who hasn't seen auto-generated word salad in the search results on occasion? That's what tells you *not to click*.) But it *would* make the URL you're using more important. (I'd expect independent bloggers to feel a hit.)

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      1. eight cornered iron star

        I beg to differ. There have been casualties by the German Leistungsschutzrecht (ancillary copyright) since it came into effect. The Leistungsschutzrecht was ment to aim at Google and the like, to make the big internet news aggregators pay for presenting links to news and publications. Almost immediately the big publishing houses waived their right won by the Leistungsschutzrecht out of fear i.g. Google might delist them completely (look at Spain, no Google news there, meaning: if you don't know the URL/name for a Spanish newspaper or online mag, you probably won't find it, meaning lesser page imperssions, meaning lesser mony from advertisements for these online publications). And while the heavy weights of the publishing houses prevailed by waiving their right, small, indenpendend press-cutting agencies went belly up, local newspapers faltered (meaning: got swallowed by the big players) and the usage of quotes at university lectures has been not a little hampered. In the end we have a more monopolised publishing landscape in Germany now, which makes it harder to get diverse and nuanced information. For everybody.

        Regarding the links, one of the problems is the commercial context the law will bring into the play. It's not just about if it's allowed adding a one- or two-liner, a text-snippet, to explain a link, it's about: does someone make money with the page you present this link on? The most popular internet services, like Facebook or Youtube, display advertisements. Which is the their business plan to earn money. Which means: any link a user posts within the pages of these services becomes displayed in a commercial context. Which means: under the new law this might be not allowed, even in the case of soccer fans discuss an newspaper article about the world championship privately. How difficult it is, only to try to get out of the monetisation such internet plattforms use, the Blender Foundation learned quite recently (

        We're in dire streets. How dire they are tells that even from some big wigs of the conservative parties of Germany comes a plea to the EU parliament to vote against the new law (in German, Open Letter Regarding Upload Filters and Ancillary Copyright).

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        1. Very concise and informative, thank you.

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