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Copyright rules are not the enemy of citizens, but the enemy of the Internet giant’s avarice
Member of the European Parliament (PPE), Rapporteur for Committee on Culture and Education for the new Copyright Directive’s proposal
The European legislation on Copyright and Internet services entered into force in the early 00s, long before the popularisation of big digital platforms, such as YouTube, making possible a large-scale share of the content uploaded by the users.
These platforms largely share and benefit from other’s creation
It would be an euphemism to say that is it time to adapt the rules to digitisation, as the principal stake is to increase responsibilisation of the platforms. They largely share and benefit from other’s creation without paying them. They can also use their dominant position to enforce their law on users. Their business model relies on law abuse in order to avoid accountability for their actions. They also use other’s content as bait, in order to attract advertising revenues and personal data.
The creators saw their revenues shrunk in the last two decades. They are more and more dependent on revenues generated online, which puts them in a position of weakness comparing to the platforms. Moreover, the development of legal offers (such as Spotify for instance) suffers from unfair competition from these big platforms, which are sharing content without remunerating the authors.
The Directive on Copyright in the Digital SIngle Market rectifies this situation by clarifying that these platforms are responsible of their content and so they have to pass agreements with the authors to pay them and to help them fighting against unlawful use of their services.
The Directive modernises the exceptions and recognises a protection
But the Directive does not only limit to that: it modernises the exceptions benefiting to research, education and cultural heritage sectors. It recognises a protection for use of articles by aggregators and it strengthens contractual rights of the authors towards their partners, both protections being very important for the press.
Knowing that their cause is impossible to advocate, the platforms and their allies used unprecedented means to prove that this Directive is a threat for freedom of speech of citizens. According to their lobbying campaign, Europe, journalists and artists would plot together to create a censorship regime similar to the one described in Orwell’s 1984. A common sense is enough to see the absurdity of these arguments. If there was room for legitimate worries, we have answered them by integrating all possible safeguards and guarantees to the reform proposal, in order to make sure that the citizens will be able to use Internet in the same way as before.
Everyone will be able to continue to share press articles or memes. The only difference will be the fact that the authors will be paid, and that they will be able to make a living of their passion, for the benefit of all.
The Copyright reform forgets the consumers
The consumers love to share content online. The rise of Facebook, Vimeo, and others transformed internet in an expression space, making it possible for consumers to easily share their digital creation with others.
Today people are used to make a video from their holidays, or a video showing the first steps of their child with a well-known music tube in the background. They will then publish it on the internet, giving their friends the possibility to watch or to comment. This culture of likes and shares contributed to the large popularity of internet.
Our concern: disappearing of the perfectly legal content
Unfortunately, we fear that all these popular activities would become impossible in case the article 13 of the proposal is adopted. If this proposal becomes law, many consumers could not upload their leisure creations – for non-commercial use – precisely because of copyright rules.
As a matter of fact, this is a possible risk. In order to comply with the new European legislation resulting from this proposal, the internet platforms sharing user-generated content would not have any other solution than to automatically filter each material uploaded to their services. As it has been proven by recent examples, the automatic filters are not intelligent enough to distinguish legal content from content infringing copyright rules. A generalised use of filters would make the perfectly legal content disappear – such as videos from holidays.
Consumers need to be protected
Try to imagine how would the internet look like if consumers wouldn’t have the possibility to share, to comment and to react to the content of their friends.
Instead of being discarded and becoming collateral damages of an economic war between platforms and right owners, the consumers should be protected by the rules applicable to copyright. This would be possible by introducing an exception to the rule, targeting content generated by the user. It would be a safeguard measure allowing consumers to upload non-commercial content.
BEUC shares the opinion according to which the work of authors and creators should be paid in a fair and equal way. Nonetheless, this objective should not be reached to the detriment of the consumer’s experience of internet, nor of their liberty of creation. A modern copyright legislation is supposed to benefit as well to creators, as to consumers.