In its current form, the proposed EU Directive for Copyright in the Digital Single Market – which includes Article 11 and Article 13 – represents a threat to the internet as we know it. The proposals were subject to a vote in the European Parliament in July, giving MEPs the chance to vote against the proposal, and fundamentally fix this Directive. They voted against rubber-stamping the proposals and therefore will reform, amend, and vote on various aspects of the Directive in the second week of September.
As PR and communications practitioners, we believe Article 11 and Article 13 are so damaging to the internet, freedom, and the digital economy that an evidence-based approach requires MEPs to defeat them at the European Parliament plenary in September.
Summary and actions
What is it? The EU Directive for Copyright in the Digital Single Market: a threat to the internet.
What is Article 11? It will introduce a “link tax” and require online platforms (such as Twitter and Facebook) to pay for linking to, or quoting from, news and content.
What is Article 13? It will introduce “censorship machines” to prevent those online platforms sharing content which is copyrighted.
What are we doing? Having fought and won a major copyright case in the Court of Justice of the European Union, and as one of the long-term supporters of OpenMedia’s Save The Link campaign, we know copyright disproportionately impacts our industry and that PR and communications practitioners need to understand (and act upon) the very clear risks to our industry. The campaign to halt the rubber-stamping of the Directive in July was successful.
When is this happening? The European Parliament plenary voted against the mandate to start negotiations with Council. We now need the European Parliament to remove these Articles at the plenary in September.
What is the most effective action? The #SaveYourInternet campaign - following the initial success - is rethinking and rebuilding its engagement tools ahead of September.
PR and communications-specific concerns
- PR and communication and journalism are in a positive-sum, symbiotic relationship when it comes to news and content creation. While the intention is to support organisations which produce news, ultimately this will hamstring aggregating websites and applications and drastically reduce the public's ability to engage properly with news and content. This has the obvious unintended consequence of reducing sharing on social media.
- Lobbyists for the proposals have previously contacted MEPs stating that the "systematic scraping of content […] in commercial services together with hyperlinks for commercial gain is not equivalent to the activities of individuals browsing the web and posting links to things they are interested in” and therefore attempt to create the impression that there is a distinction, on social media, between individuals and “commercial services”. Much like our work on the NLA (and our CJEU victory), attempts to draw about these distinctions inevitably lead to our industry being disproportionately targeted to prioritise right-holders over internet users.
- The remit of the proposal extends beyond search engines and commercial use and could result, in the future, in individuals and businesses being charged to share hyperlinks: this has serious ramifications for practitioners who are, for example, sharing hyperlinks to favourable recent coverage.
Press release - PRCA welcomes vote against EU Copyright Directive: "We have the chance to save the internet"
The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) has welcomed the vote against opening negotiations on the EU Copyright Directive in the Digital Single Market – effectively allowing reform and a full debate on the proposed link tax and censorship machines in September – as a victory for the everyday internet user.
Francis Ingham MPRCA, Director General, PRCA, said: “Thanks to the 318 MEPs who voted to send these damaging proposals back to the drawing board, we have a real opportunity in September to preserve the internet as we know it and end these attempts to severely limit how links and content can be shared online.
“As the PR and communications industry has said time and time again, the very idea of link taxes and censorship machines threatens the core principle of access to information and represents a misguided attempt to regulate our internet in a way that is detrimental to practitioners as well as the everyday internet user.
“While the intention is to support organisations which produce news, ultimately this will hamstring aggregating websites and applications and drastically reduce the public's ability to engage properly with news and content.
“This is a live issue and we welcome the fact MEPs have not simply rubber-stamped these proposals. Now is the time to keep up our efforts; now is the time to engage with the details; now is the time to make sure social media remains social. We have the chance to save the internet.”