We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Anyone know how the new EU internet censorship & link tax law will affect the UK?

According to Lucian Armasu of Tom’s Hardware, in one week’s time I might no longer be able to link to Lucian Armasu of Tom’s Hardware and quote him like I’m about to do. Or have I misunderstood? I hope I have, because this sounds serious:

EU Expected To Pass Censorship Machines, Link Tax On June 20

As soon as June 20, next week, the European Parliament will vote a draft legislation proposed by the European Commission (EU’s executive body). Critics have attacked the proposal as being quite extreme because it could impact many digital industries too severely.

Censorship Machines (Article 13)

One of the biggest issues with the new EU copyright reform proposal is the Article 13, which mandates that websites that accept user content (anything from videos to online comments) must have an “upload filter” that would block all copyrighted content that’s uploaded by users. Critics, such as Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Julia Reda, have also called upload filters “censorship machines.”

Under the censorship machine proposal, companies would be required to get a license for any copyrighted content that is uploaded to their site by its users. In other words, websites would be liable for any content their users upload to the site. It goes without saying that this could significantly hamper innovation on the internet.

For instance, YouTube or a site like it, probably wouldn’t even exist today if the site would have been liable for what users uploaded from day one.

Link Tax (Article 11)

The “link tax” proposal in Article 11 of the copyright reform directive is another idea that’s not just seemingly bad, but it has also failed in countries such as Spain and Germany, where it has already been attempted. Instead of getting companies such as Google or other publishers to pay for the links, or article excerpts and previews, those companies simply stopped linking to content coming from Germany and Spain.

To make matters worse, the EC will allow EU member states to decide for themselves how the link tax should work. This seems contrary to the Commission’s “Digital Single Market” objective, because it will create significant complexity for all online publishers operating in the EU. They will have to abide by all the different copyright rules in the 27 member states. Existing fragmented copyright laws in the EU is one of the reasons why services such as Netflix took so long to arrive in most European countries, too.

Reda believes that a link tax would significantly reduce the number of hyperlinks we see on the web, which means websites will be much less connected to each other. Additionally, the link tax could boost fake news, because real publishers may require others to pay for linking to its content, but fake news operations evidently will not. These groups will want their content to be spread as easily as possible.

Reda also said that the link tax would be in violation of the Berne Convention, which guarantees news websites the right to quote articles and “press summaries.”

I have heard of Julia Reda MEP before. She sits with the Greens in the EU Parliament but don’t hold that against her; she is actually a member of the Pirate Party. She is fighting the good fight.

26 comments to Anyone know how the new EU internet censorship & link tax law will affect the UK?

  • Fred Z

    It suddenly occurs to me that the EU models itself on the Arab counties: Never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

  • Well I simply intend to ignore it.

  • Rob Fisher

    I have no idea if this is real or not. It is impossible to tell because it is impossible to understand the EU.

    “If the new copyright directive passes, most American companies may simply decide that serving EU users is no longer worth it, which most likely wouldn’t be positive outcome for the EU as a whole.”

    Part of me would like to see this happen so that this type of regulation could be overturned then thoroughly discredited forever. Though I fear people would just shrug and then get used to it.

  • jim jones

    Everyone should use a VPN to protect themselves from the State

  • pete

    The law will probably be overlooked in most cases but will prove useful when the authorities want to victimise a person who links to inconvenient facts.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Does it matter?

    Most of the more sophisticated communities in the African hinterland; the Kingdom of Zimbabwe for example, were at the end of long trade routes emanating from the mediterranean region, and controlled commodities such as the trade in ivory, slaves and gold. But they were precisely that; trading societies. The absence of a sophisticated written language is crucial for the development of higher level narrative. Even with complex writing systems such as Egyptian cursive hieroglyphics this is difficult, but it does not preclude disciplines such as mathematics, engineering and science. The non-pictographic consonantal alphabets such as Phoenician, Greek and Latin, descended from pictographic systems and enabled the societies centred on the Mediterranean to dominate their known world and eventually the narratives of the globe itself; even in the matter of dress, the great gift to the world of the middle Celto-Mediterranean civilisations are the triubhas. The philosophical decedents of the Graeco-Roman tradition both figuratively and literally wear the trousers.

    It can be argued, even convincingly, that the decline in the power of Islam after the fourth battle of Lepanto was due to the lack of a simple, universal and accessible alphabetical system.

    When I was a student I shared a flat with a Scots mathematics postgraduate and when we got pissed he used to start to play the “Scots invented everything” game. To which I countered with the “Scots invented nothing at all” game. Neither of us would give ground so we used to go down the pub and find someone else to argue with; which is exactly where I am going now; so God bless us every one said Tiny Tim.

  • Sam Duncan

    “Or have I misunderstood?”

    No, that’s about the size of it. They intend to take Sir Tim’s amazing invention and smash it with a big hammer.

    Letter-writing campaign here. It’s also thought it will affect the development of open-source code. Petition here.

    “Part of me would like to see this happen so that this type of regulation could be overturned then thoroughly discredited forever. Though I fear people would just shrug and then get used to it.”

    Me too. But it’s amazing what people will put up with. Sometimes I think the EU’s just testing the waters to see what it can get away with.

    The rest of the time, I’m sure of it. A single currency was first proposed back in the 1970s, along with an army, to general outrage. So they just went on the back burner until the population was conditioned into accepting them. Same with the constitution. Defeating this regulation won’t make them stop trying. That’s why we have to leave.

  • Most governments regard free and unencumbered communications between people as the modern global equivalent of an angry mob with pitchforks and torches. No effort is spared to deprive this mob of both its pitchforks and its torches. Just please don’t call it censorship.

  • llamas

    It’s almost as though the EU got all of its people in one room and said ‘if we wanted to cripple the open-ness and connectivity of the Internet as badly as possible, restrict our citizens from tapping free flows of information and ideas, and cripple trade and business with the rest of the world – how would we do it? By a tax, of course – that is, after all, the first European answer to any problem – but a tax on what, and how, specifically?’

    And there’s a part of me that thinks (based on the old concept of ‘if you want to know what they are thinking, watch what they do’), that this may be an underlying goal. I’m sure that many of the EU nomenklatura secretly hate the ways that the Internet lets their citizens access products and ideas that they would much rather they could not. I’m sure many of them see the shrinking of their citizens’ access to the whole of the Internet, not as a bug, but a feature. If this all comes to pass as stated, expect the ‘censorship machines’ to expand their remit to ‘anything the Government doesn’t want you to see’ in the time it takes to boil an egg. A soft-boiled egg. As the EU is ‘a game played for national interests, and always was’ (cf Sir Humphrey Appleby) it will be interesting to see how the various nations exploit the ability to tax and censor the Internet against each other.

    I see where Billll already started to make these points as well, while I was typing.



  • William O. B'Livion

    The notion of a “filter” that can reliably detect copyrighted material is incredibly dumb, but at best it’s a dumb notion that is intended to protect a “right” that has been in existence, in one form or another for what, 300 years?

    The notion of taxing, or otherwise making people pay for *links*?

    There is a lot I have to say on that, but most of it is obscene and very little of it useful other than to point out that yes, your politicians AT LEAST as dumb as ours and more malicious, and to ask will they be outlawing citations in scholarly journals next.

  • the last toryboy

    It’s a fine example of what happens when you unleash a German lawyer on the internet.

    It won’t be in force for some time thanks to the arcane way the EU works, but yes, as it is being reported at the moment it would be an absolute catastrophe. The link tax is probably the most damaging bit. Spain has a link tax, US tech giants are already steering clear. It’ll ruin blogging and independent news especially.

    One wonders if that is the entire point, given the populist tsunami threatening to drown all these Eurocrats.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    The only good tax is a dead one!
    Speaking of leaving, how goes Brexit? What are the odds that you’ll break away cleanly? Or will you end up tied up like Switzerland is, internally free, but externally bound?

  • The notion of a “filter” that can reliably detect copyrighted material is incredibly dumb. (William O. B’Livion (June 13, 2018 at 7:08 pm))

    Well, yes!

    We should follow standard software procedure: demand the EU provide a reference implementation. Their bureaucracy will take years and produce something that filters out all Shakespeare quotes and many EU directives. It will make the development of the Obamacare website look like a prompt and efficient process.

  • Speaking of leaving, how goes Brexit? (Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray, June 14, 2018 at 1:30 am)

    We’ve just had a couple of key votes that went the right way as far as that goes, though May (foolishly, I suspect) got through one by promising a further discussion in Parliament – there is much argument over which side was gulled in this promise. As for bearable deal or bad deal – or no-deal (better than bad deal) because in the end noone will be able to get their act together before the clock runs out early next year – we’ll see.

    Meanwhile, the latest Remoaner gambit to get it cancelled is mocked in my latest post. To see what I’m satirising, you must pass the paywall of the most recent Sunday Times – June 10th – for their story “Revealed: Brexit backer’s golden Kremlin connections” (they even reuse the word ‘golden’ 🙂 ).

  • Tim the Coder

    Let’s make an illegal copy of part of a Hollywood movie:
    There we are, done!
    All copyrighted works are just strings of binary digits, and since to copy part of a work is still infringing copyright, even 0 and 1 count.
    The Unicorn Farm nature of a “Copyright Filter” is not a bug, it’s a feature. It’s meant to be impossible.

    Most allowed websites, it is hoped, will ban uploaded content, thereby suppressing communication between the proles. These are the same people who licenced typewriters.
    Websites that continue to allow uploaded contents will always be ‘guilty’, so anyone associated with them can be arrested and locked up. Charges later.
    Websites outside EU – is there a world outside the EU? Block it at once. Dangerous source of fake news.

    That mile-high wall around France…..is it waterproof?

  • Mr Ecks

    The Brexit/Kremlin bullshit won’t fly any more than it has with Trump.

    Soros trying to stick his shrunken knob in via his paid hacks meeting with scummy Tory traitors is a problem only because of the utter weakness and cowardice of the Fish Faced Cow.

    Any one with the balls of a gnat would soon send the Soros gang packing.

  • Rob

    The originators of the Link Tax probably laugh at the Window Tax.

  • FYI

    451: Unavailable due to legal reasons

    We recognize you are attempting to access this website from a country belonging to the European Economic Area (EEA) including the EU which enforces the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and therefore access cannot be granted at this time. For any issues, contact hostmaster@madison.com or call 800-362-8333.

    Of course, in the self-serving, but also wise, words of Smitty: why protest about new laws when “there’s a brand-new business opportunity in every one” (Robert Heinlein, Red Planet, quoted from memory).

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    You are so right! The next business venture will be in straw-legging! I don’t know if the anti-plastic craze has reached Britain, but Australia seems to be declaring War on Plastic! (plastic bags, that is. Something to do with the Pacific Ocean being clogged with the stuff. Just change the name to Plastic Ocean!) Drinking straws are also included. So start hording straws and plastic bags, and then raise the price when you have cornered the market!

  • Paul Marks

    David Cullen (“Computing Forever” over on YouTube – till the finally drive him off it) is following this matter closely. He is very good, both on regulations and how companies (which are full of SJW types trained in universities) actively work with governments (i.e. with officials and politicians will similar attitudes) to crush freedom of speech – partly on commercial grounds, but mostly on political grounds.

  • thefattomato

    I hope it passes; public might finally understand how absurd copyright laws are and have always been

  • Sam Duncan

    “I don’t know if the anti-plastic craze has reached Britain”

    I get the distinct impression someone circulated a memo on January 2nd. It went from being a matter of supreme media indifference to the greatest threat to mankind since the last one practically overnight.

  • morsjon

    Everyone should use a VPN to protect themselves from the State

    Yes, until VPN is banned of course. The best easy way of maintaining the ability to communicate is to subscribe to email lists, and get a secure email address.

  • Mike

    So …. imagine the whole of Google services get withdrawn from Europe… and you’re OK with that?