File under: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

The European Union has approved new copyright laws on digital content. They are to protect content providers from piracy and abuse of copyrighted material.

Sounds great, except…

If you use more than one word from a headline when you refer to an article, you are faced with a Use Tax or possible fine. And then it goes downhill…

From the Wall Street Journal: “But tech executives say making platforms responsible for ensuring that no unlicensed copyright material is uploaded to their services would create a costly obligation that would discourage smaller companies from offering services.

Supporters of the bill say they made changes to the parliament text to respond to critics from the tech industry by exempting “small and micro” platforms from the directive’s obligations. In addition, the law will exempt noncommercial encyclopedias like Wikipedia from the rules.

Nevertheless, the Wikimedia Foundation, parent of the online encyclopedia, has been one of the bill’s biggest detractors, saying it would hurt free expression. “It isn’t really about us,” said Jimmy Wales, Wikimedia’s founder. “It’s about the ecosystem we’re a part of.”

(Original article may be paywalled, so link is to The Passive Voice excerpt.)

If the entire thing is as bad as many fear, readers in the EU may find themselves blocked from large swaths of the Internet, and writers may find that they can’t see references to themselves or their books (can’t find reviews, can’t hunt to see if someone is pirating your work). Based on my limited personal experience with European Union, bureaucracy the overkill will be way overkill, and then there will be special carve-outs that will come and go at the whim of tech employees of the EU bureaucracy. As far as protecting Intellectual Property? Well, if no one is permitted to look at your work without paying a government fee, it might indeed cut down on thefts and copying, as well as sales.


    1. Too much Good Sense and Enterprise in the Real World. Triggered their allergies.

      There’s no possibility of stealing that which cannot be acquired in the first place, right?

  1. Yes. A long time ago. The ones voting are second rate politicians who hide for a few very renumerative years while their party languish in opposition with fewer seats in their respective parliaments. When there is a later win quite a few return to their own parliament. The perks are great if nothing else.

    The EU was a great idea since it kept GBR, Germany or France from fighting once every 30 or so years. Also kept France from being to cosy with the Soviet Union and overlapped rather nicely with NATO. (Yeah, as someone living close to the Soviet Union I very much appreciate NATO and US troops. To anyone ever serving in Europe, a heartfelt thanks!)

    But the bureaucratic over and undergrowth of the EU have made lots of people very much fed up with it.

    The proposed legislation is so complicated that the politicians involved have no idea about most of what they have been voting for.

    The law is also retroactive in the sense that links already published would not be tax-excempt, since they are rated as ongoing publishing.

    1. The last time I was in Vienna I wandered into the bookstore that sells copies of EU regulations, bundled by general topic. They also sold debate topics (not a good translation, but that’s what they were). I skimmed a few and wandered out, after buying a historic map that they happened to have in the “to keep tourists from pestering us” bin by the door. As you say, bureaucratic over and undergrowth.

  2. In answer to the question in the post’s title, what couldn’t go wrong? Thanks for the links, I’ll give them a look this weekend.

  3. Its Europe. They love stuff like this. It gives them a chance to get the Elite back in control of the propaganda machinery. Currently all this chaotic “freedom” stuff is harshing their mellow.

    1. You’re canadian IIRC? The crats and politicos in question are the same kind of people that gave you bill C-16. However, they are way better insulated from their voters and thus even more amenable to lobbying. Also the press does not follow this stuf in depth. You can always get off free saying that it was someone else who voted for stupid proposal X, Y or Z.

      The common market was a great idea as long as it was a market only, with the peace-keeping benefits.

      1. As time goes on, Canada is starting to resemble Greece in the depth and breadth of governmental corruption. We may actually be sitting on USSR-level corruption and just don’t know it yet.

        Trump’s response to Trudeau is very instructive. A stone wall, with “F- You” painted on it. He wouldn’t be doing that if there wasn’t money involved, is my take.

        Word to the wise, if you show up at the US border and they ask you if you have ever used cannabis, you must refuse to answer the question. You’ll miss your plane, but it will be worth it.

        Otherwise, they’ll slap a lifetime ban on you. If you lie and they find out (Big Brother sees all) you get a lifetime ban. This is happening to thousands of Canadians right now.

        And the reason its happening is to torpedo the Liberals. Hardball.

    2. I saw a comment from another site that mentioned that it would seriously hamper the use of stock images for the meme creators. The blogger’s take was that it was (in addition to everything else wrong with it) a “Shut Up, Peasant!” effort.

      It’s amazing/disgusting/disquieting to consider what we had with Usenet and what was lost with Big Media.

      1. This is totally “shut up, peasant!” 100% expected from these Eurotrash bureaucrats. See, now you can’t comment on news stories. Somebody prints something, you can’t even link to it.

        The Darkweb should be experiencing a huge boom this year, just from kids sending memes to each other.

        1. Funny thing, they tried this in a few Euro states and the newspapers had to beg Google to get linked to again. Loss of traffic was severe.

          Also, reading editorial pieces complaining about the new law is kind of funny when the companies that own the newspapers, lock, stock and editors, paid for the lobbying effort necessary to foment this law.

          1. I remember reading years ago that in Italy you had to have a tax sticker on your laptop, to prove you paid the software tax. I don’t know the details of the tax, it was odious and retarded. The usual cash grab Mediterranean states are famous for, this one in the name of anti-piracy.

            So -everybody- had a sticker, because there were counterfeit stickers on sale immediately after the law went into force. The only people with real stickers were big companies and government employees.

            As is also well know, Italians/Greeks/Spaniards etc. commonly do everything in cash, they don’t leave a paper trail ever, and they find creative ways to never pay their income taxes.

            And the Greek government is defaulting on its Euro loans in all but name, Spain and Italy are right behind them.

  4. All is well. The central planners have decreed sunshine and unicorns and unlimited rice pudding for all.

      1. Hmm, the GF beer might be nice, but without alcohol, what’s the point? (Alcohol with my medical issues offends my sense of survival.)

        I try to select products that do not describe themselves as GMO-free.

        1. you’re just mad your GMO-free organic vegan bratwurst was rejected from the EU because it curved 3mm too much to meet the standard

          1. Nah, never got that far. The only reason we have it is that Fluffy considers it good as a target.

            After which, of course, nothing but c-o-two and h-two-o was left

  5. Keep in mind who this law is intended to go after. It’s a classic illustration of the old adage, “Hard cases make bad law.” In this case, the hard cases are the usual suspects, particularly Google and Facebook. As the earlier Google Book Settlement illustrated, a major part of their business model is making money on content that they spent little or nothing creating. Others do the work. They make the money.

    Publishing Perspectives refers to that in the link above when it mentions: “That directive, part of the EU’s Digital Single Market development, is meant to protect copyright holders’ rights in the face of large tech companies’ use of online content in aggregations and links.”

    Translated into more concrete terms, that means companies such a Google are skimming news sources, grabbing the headline and the first few sentences, and posting that aggregation in ways that earn them income. This is about forcing them to pay for that skimmed content, using the crudest of tools, copyright law.

    Do you see the unfairness of that? The original source perhaps had a reporter who spent half a day gathering the material, a substantial investment by the source. Google and others have a ‘bots’ that strip the essence away at virtually no cost to themselves. And yeah, they don’t mind posting a link to the original. That link, such as it is, doesn’t affect their profits. It does, however, reduce the number of people who regularly follow the original source on its online front page, see its ads, and perhaps subscribe to it. “Why should I do that,” those people ask, “when Goggle will let me find what matters to me more quickly?”

    The trouble comes because it’s hard to create laws that go after the money-making robotic machines of the big tech companies without frightening and making life difficult for smaller Internet services, and indeed any news source that quotes and links to other online sources. And the latter are typically websites do add significant content of their own. The article above illustrates that. Although it links and quotes, it’s doing much more than that. It’s adding its own perspective to this issue. That not only should be legal, it should be encouraged by our laws.

    In short, it’s an all-too-familiar story about greedy SOBs at companies such as Google and Facebook who make life difficult for the rest of us.

    –Michael W. Perry, Inkling Books

    1. > …skimming news sources, grabbing the headline and the first few sentences, and posting that aggregation

      Traditionally such material was displayed in a glass window on the front of the vending machine, free for anyone to read, as an enticement to buy the paper.

      Why is it different when Google does it?

      Note that I am not a fan of Google in general, but neither am I a fan of cutting off the nose of fair use to spite Google’s face.

    2. Most of the reporters deserve to go out of business anyway. Deserve and fair are bad bases for sweeping new laws.

      EU bureaucrats and politicians are also greedy sons of bitches.

      Trusting reporters, especially trusting them not to be producing carefully curated lies, is stupid. Trusting Google and Facebook, especially trusting them not to be organs of censorship and propaganda, is stupid. The reporter business model, the Google business model, and the Facebook business model, reliant on public trust yet not taking steps to avoid obviously betraying that trust, are stupid.

      The ‘more than one word quoted from a headline’ level of infringement that best encapsulates the situation?

      Kill the Euros. End their culture.
      Kill the Euros. Kill them all.

          1. Not everyone recognizes that I was attempting the rip off the lyrics to Kill the Humans from the BBC’s Hyperdrive?

            Strictly speaking, everyone in polities outside of the United States, in the case of war with those polities over irreconcilable political differences. (Despite knowing that the elimination of the population of every such polity would probably make the US obsolete.) This particular law confirms the hypothesis of irreconcilable political differences with the European Union, and supports the hypothesis that the European Union will be an opponent of the United States in the next world war. Or if we are in a cold war now, the next intense hot phase. In a serious enough war, populations are a legitimate target.

    3. Michael, your points are all good and true. The problem will be, as always, in the application. The laws are aimed at the big search engines, but I fear and strongly suspect that it will be the smaller blogs and news aggregators that will be targeted, because they do not have the funds to fight back.

      I foresee echoes of what happened when the EU changed the tax rules for electronic files that were bought and sold (e-books, but other things as well). A number of one-person shops that sold knitting and sewing patterns when out of business overnight because they could not afford the software and permits to collect the taxes, and they could not afford the lawyers and accountants needed to appeal (which they could do, under the revised tax law).

      1. The process -is- the punishment. Shut up, peasant.

        Inevitable solution, darkweb, black market. Net increase in lawlessness and corruption.

  6. My big question and concern is, I have a blog in the US on a US-based server, if I run afoul of any of the EU laws, how are they going to enforce them against me?

    1. Good question, and one I suspect a lot of people are waiting to find out. The ‘extraterritoriality” question is being hotly argued in the context of the EU “Right to be Forgotten” laws, and we might find out in a few weeks.

      1. My current attitude, which is subject change once some of the details become clear, is that as a US citizen with several US-based blogs, I’m not subject to EU regulations. If they come up with a way to take money from my account for any fines I might incur, I will obviously revise my position. Until then the Eurocrats can get bent.

    2. The EU’s idiotic regulations are quickly reaching the point where if I ran a site, I’d probably put in a geolocation IP address filter: if you’re coming from the EU, you can’t access the site at all. Instead, visitors from IP addresses in the EU would see a big page saying “This site does not do business in the EU” and would not be able to order anything. Because I think it would be cheaper in the long run to cut off millions of customers than to implement the idiotic rules the EU keeps passing.

  7. I’m not in a position to defend this at the moment, but I’ve come to oppose all copyright law. It’s something that was originally designed to give the State the ability to control what gets published, but when the State didn’t want that power, the publishers decided they wanted it, and so they used the excuse that “authors need to be protected” to transfer the power of control to the publishers instead.

    Laws like this are a reminder of just how easy it is to use copyright to enable censorship — which shouldn’t be a surprise, considering its origins.

    But then, for Statists, that’s a feature, not a bug!

    (As someone pointed out, this is likely a dig at ,oogle and Facebook. The irony, though, is that organizations with teams of lawyers and deep coffers are going to be relatively unphased by this. These kinds of regulations *inevitably* hurts the little guys who don’t have the resources to fight back!)

    1. Copyright is essential for a period of time—as witnessed by those states/countries that abolished it and immediately saw a precipitous drop in creative content. However, I will definitely agree that the length of copyright is ridiculous now. Having anything over life + time to minor children reaching majority is obscene, and I would even argue that if that amount is over a certain length, that’s too long. The old style of 28 years plus one option to renew seems reasonable to me. (I’d also argue that if a corporation *cough Disney cough* wants to maintain a copyright for longer, they can danged well pay for the privilege.)

  8. So the million monkeys banging away on their typewriters better watch out.
    The modern equivalent would be a random text generator feeding a web site.
    Drive the monitors crazy.

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