Lobbying Defeats the People, Article 11/13 Passes Trilogue Stage

Major multinational corporations, through the power of lobbying, have scored a huge victory and got Article 11 and Article 13 through the Trilogue stage.

It has been a major and very public battle between the people who support free speech and multinational corporate interests who are finally seeing an opening to put their foot on the throat of the Internet. Now, word is that that after intense lobbying, the laws that no one wants has been passed. From Reuters:

“Agreement reached on #copyright! Europeans will finally have modern copyright rules fit for digital age with real benefits for everyone: guaranteed rights for users, fair remuneration for creators, clarity of rules for platforms,” EU digital chief Andrus Ansip said in a tweet.

Lawmaker Julia Reda from the Pirate Party also voiced concerns, saying that algorithms in upload filters cannot tell the difference between copyright infringements and legal parodies.

“Requiring platforms to use upload filters would not just lead to more frequent blocking of legal uploads, it would also make life difficult for smaller platforms that cannot afford filtering software,” she said.

European consumer organization BEUC expressed disappointment.

“It will become much harder for users to share their own, noncommercial music, video or photo creations online. This reform is not based on the reality of how people use the internet,” its deputy director general, Ursula Pachl, said.

Small Businesses on Notice – Your Days Are Numbered

It wasn’t until earlier this month that the laws were seen to be all but dead. Unfortunately for Europeans, that relief was short-lived thanks to the sudden surrender of Germany who basically gave up their opposition to the laws for nothing.

In a last minute deal, Germany pretty much gave up everything. What was put in place is a provision that the laws won’t apply to businesses younger than 3 years or make less than €10,000,000. Unfortunately, if that business celebrates three years of online operation or makes one euro too many, they would be forced to implement ineffective content filters that will likely run them out of business.

In response, the small business community overwhelmingly slammed Germany for what some call as an “extinction level event” in the making. From our report at the time:

Now that a few days have passed, European individuals, businesses, lobby groups and governments have weighed in on the proposal and everyone hates it.

That German uprising that German politicians feared? It’s arrived, in force.

  • Bitkom, representing more than 2600 German businesses, from startups to small and medium enterprises, has completely rejected the proposal, calling it “an attack on the freedom of expression”;
  • Eco, lobbying for more than 1,100 businesses across Europe, said that Germany had “become weak” in its negotiating position, putting “the smallest, small, and medium-sized companies” at risk;
  • Deutschestartups tweeted their condemnation of the proposal, saying it put “stones in the way” of any European tech company hoping to grow;
  • The Berlin think tank iRights.Lab called for an “immediate and total stop” to the negotiations, so alarmed were they by their direction; while C-Netz, another think tank that serves as a kind of arms-length expert body to Germany’s mainstream political parties also denounced the deal.

Meanwhile, European citizens have gone in droves to sign a petition denouncing the laws as well. As of this writing, that petition has garnered more than 4.7 million signatures.

The Next Steps

When the laws went into the “trilogue” stage, many did note that putting a stop to these laws would be extremely difficult thanks to the closed door nature of the “trilogue” meetings. While this latest move represents disaster for almost everyone in Germany, it doesn’t mean that it’s game over yet.

There are still multiple votes that this law has to pass. There aren’t that many (two if our count is correct), but we are getting close to the do or die time.

Julia Reda, European member of the Pirate Party, said in a Tweet that there is still time to #SaveYourInternet. She said in another tweet, “We can still stop them in the final vote!”

So, the battle to save the internet is not over yet, but we are nearing the final stages at this point. If European’s are hoping to save the Internet, more pressure will need to be applied on lawmakers to put a stop to it. Powerful lobbyists have pushed the laws this far and they won’t stop until the crushing laws make it into the law books. It is going to be an uphill battle, but there is still time for European’s to protect the Internet.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.



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