Day 8 of Article 13 Passage: EU Rejects Germany’s Blanket License Idea

Germany has said that it will create a blanket license for the Internet. Unfortunately, EU officials have quickly struck that down, demanding filters.

One of the key cornerstone arguments made by lobbyists is that this copyright directive is about ensuring creators get paid. Unfortunately for them, that argument has now completely evaporated after a dispute between Germany and the EU erupted.

The idea itself is nothing new. Digital rights advocates have been arguing for a blanket license for the Internet since at least the mid 2000’s. A lot of people might be familiar with the blanket license on CD’s and DVD’s. The idea, of course, is that copying is going to happen. Whether it is backing up a video game or album, people will make copies for personal use. So, a blanket license is put in place to compensate the the creators through a levy. This is how it works in a number of different countries.

So, why not apply this concept to the Internet? If non-commercial copyright infringement happens on a file-sharing network, why not have a levy that simply covers that? The alternative, of course, is that major record labels, movie studios, and game publishers continue to file mass lawsuits against teenagers who may or may not know better. If this longstanding copyright battle is about paying artists, such an idea is pretty much a no-brainer. Unfortunately, for major corporations, compensating creators was never really what this whole copyright debate is about and the idea was never adopted.

So, it definitely was a surprise to see this play out once again in Europe – more specifically, Germany. With Europe passing the Article 13 disaster, countries are now left scrambling to find solutions. For countries like France, this represents the golden opportunity finally kill this whole Internet thing off. So, the country is now moving as quickly as possible to implement censorship. For other countries, it is all about trying to find a way to implement the laws while causing the least amount of damage to innovation as possible.

That’s exactly what is happening in Germany. The country is floating an idea about simply paying the creators a blanket license rather than implement the crippling censorship machines law. The logic, of course, is simply that if this whole debate is about levelling the playing field and compensating creators, then this would be a much better choice. On the one hand, creators finally get the money people claim they are begging for. On the other hand, innovation won’t be gutted in the country because of the crippling censorship machines. It’s really a win-win for everyone.

Naturally, history is repeating itself. European officials have responded angrily to the plan to pay creators. European Budget Commissioner G√ľnther Oettinger warned Germany (German, English translation) that the plan is not acceptable and that filtering must still move ahead.

Oettinger said that he doesn’t want to sound like a teacher, but the laws set binding requirements and that he expects the governments to follow through with implementation. He also said that a German special way should not exist. He went further by saying that infringing content that has been posted must be permanently removed. He said that this is necessary to protect copyrighted material and that he doesn’t understand what’s so difficult to understand about that.

So, here we see a point blank example of how the copyright debate was never about compensating creators. This is more about trying to kill the open Internet. Compensating creators was simply a ruse to get people on board. If it was about the money, this idea would have been welcomed with open arms. That, unsurprisingly, is not the case. The only bright side to this development is that the motives were laid bare for all to see.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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