On the morning of the 12th September 2018 The EU ushered in a new piece of a legislation that has caused shockwaves throughout the internet. Content providers, shareholders, copyrighters and basically anyone who uses the internet will be affected by what some critics have described as ‘catastrophic’.
The new legislation is actually two new pieces of legislation and this two-headed beast already has its critics within and outside of the EU. So what is all the fuss about? What is the content of these powerful pieces of paper?
Article 11, the lesser of two evils according to critics is designed to give creators of content more power, ensuring that they can demand licenses and therefore a fee from larger companies like Google when they link their stories. Article 13 on the other hand requires companies like Youtube and Facebook and other large companies to stop sharing unlicensed copyright material altogether.
Naturally the heaviest critics of these new laws are tech companies. More specifically, the Silicon Valley big boys; these are the companies that are almost explicitly targeted by the new legislation and so have reason to be a little rattled to say the least. The criticism is grounded in the reality that attempts to tax companies like Google have failed.
Furthermore the laws would increase the workload of those who would be entitled to claim for licences as they would have to work with the platforms themselves to stop them. In order for this to work every single piece of uploaded content would have to be scanned. This begs the question: is limiting powers of larger companies worth the toll it will take on smaller one’s workloads?
Yes, decidedly as almost two thirds of the European Commission voted in favour of the bill. Its defenders say that larger tech companies are simply scaremongering because they fear losing their grip on the web’s biggest platforms.
Allowances are made and you are allowed to link hyperlinks and use words to describe content without constraint. Additionally GitHub and Wikipedia are both exempt from the law. Champions of the bill are sure it won’t be abused in the way some many of its critics are warning.
It will become clearer in January when the European parliament has the final say on whether or not the bill gets passed and its ripple effects will be more noticeable. That said, each country within the European Union will have its own say on how they interpret the words.