Joint Letter Submitted in Effort to Put the Brakes on Article 13

Innovators and creators have filed a joint letter opposing Europe’s infamous Article 13 copyright proposal.

We are now just a week away from a critical vote on Article 13. The vote is set to take place June 20 or 21st. Digital rights advocates in Europe have been pushing hard against the proposal. The proposal itself will mandate platforms adopt copyright filters that would block all alleged infringing content.

In the days since the start of the campaign to stop Article 13, advocates have dialed up the pressure to stop the copyright proposal. They say it would mean the end of Internet memes, kill satire, and put onerous new restrictions on bloggers to name a few problems.

Unfortunately, as time has gone on, it seems that the prospects of stopping the proposed law, seen by innovators as “carpet bombing the entire digital world“, has grown more dire. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says that the prospects have grown worse for those hoping to stop this assault on the Internet. They say that lawmakers are increasingly doubling down on the proposed laws.

In response, innovators from across the web have signed an open letter (PDF) opposing Article 13. From the letter:

As a group of the Internet’s original architects and pioneers and their successors, we write to you as a matter of urgency about an imminent threat to the future of this global network.

The European Commission’s proposal for Article 13 of the proposed Directive for Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive was well-intended. As creators ourselves, we share the concern that there should be a fair distribution of revenues from the online use of copyright works, that benefits creators, publishers, and platforms alike.

But Article 13 is not the right way to achieve this. By requiring Internet platforms to perform automatic filtering all of the content that their users upload, Article 13 takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.

Europe has been served well by the balanced liability model established under the Ecommerce Directive, under which those who upload content to the Internet bear the principal responsibility for its legality, while platforms are responsible to take action to remove such content once its illegality has been brought to their attention. By inverting this liability model and essentially making platforms directly responsible for ensuring the legality of content in the first instance, the business models and investments of platforms large and small will be impacted. The damage that this may do to the free and open Internet as we know it is hard to predict, but in our opinions could be substantial.

It is hoped that logic and reasoning would be enough to sway the politicians on this matter. The last time we saw this kind of push back was when there was when the same people pushed to save the Internet in the US. Unfortunately, the American regulators ignored sound logic and reasoning and voted to scrap network neutrality. Obviously, innovators are hoping their voices will yield different results this time around.

With the vote being merely a week away, time is running short to sway lawmakers to vote against these measures. So, in these last crucial days left, it is either now or never that European’s voice their opposition towards Article 13.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.


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