Germany Surrenders to France, Article 11/13 Now Moves Ahead

Germany, a key factor in the stalled negotiations, has surrendered to Frances demands. This is allowing article 11 and article 13 to move forward.

It’s a law almost no one wants, but it seems that it’s a law Europeans are now at risk of getting anyway. Article 11, known as the link tax, and article 13, known as the censorship machine, is now moving forward after Germany caved to the pressures of France.

During negotiations, it seems that a new exception was put in place which does nothing to save the Internet. If an online business earns €10,000,000, or is more than three years old, then that business must fork over millions to implement the censorship machines or face getting shut down entirely.

With the copyright directive finally defeating Germany, it can move forward thanks to the countries representative population.

The development has been swiftly condemned by digital rights organizations who called the law a “death sentence” to business. From EFF:

Either way, this is a death sentence.

To add insult to injury, the new rules give large corporate rightsholders the power to demand that online communities pay whatever price is offered to license anything their users might conceivably upload: a website for fishing enthusiasts could be forced to license the entire catalogues of every stock-art company in the world.

It’s even worse for the sort of services that might potentially challenge established, affluent, Internet companies—those that aren’t looking to make a profit, but need to bring in cash in order to survive. If you never intend your federated, decentralised, or volunteer-driven service to make a penny, but you have managed eke enough to survive for three years: well congratulations, in Europe, you’re just about to hit requirements that will either bankrupt you, or be technically impossible, or both. (The proposed language makes a foray into limiting the affected sites to those hosting content for “profit-making purposes”—but like “commercial-scale” in previous copyright proposals, “profit-making” is a term designed to be contested (Are you profit-making because you’ve never formally become a European non-profit? Or are you profit-making because you’re not making a loss?).

Digital rights organizations have already blasted the proposals as anti-competitive and a major assault on free speech. Meanwhile, major multinational corporations have condemned the laws because it won’t shut down the Internet fast enough. As such, support is exceedingly scant at this point for the directive. Still, it moves ahead in spite of the more than 4.5 million Europeans who signed a petition denouncing the laws.

At this point, it looks like the laws will still remain largely intact at the end of these “trilogue” meetings. All that will be left are last few votes before it becomes law. As such, it looks like the battle to save the Internet will have a good chance at making it all the way down to the 11th hour now. So, it will likely be all hands on deck to the very end or else Europe could, in the words of digital rights organizations, lose the Internet altogether.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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