Back in December, we reported on proposed legislation from the European Commission that would require the constant monitoring and filtering of virtually everything that is uploaded to the internet in Europe. This legislation, which was proposed in September 2016, could heavily impact everything from memes to fan works, and our friends at Save the Link are putting out a call to action for anyone who uses the internet in the EU to contact their Members of the European Parliament.
One legislative proposal in particular, known as Article 13, could stifle fanworks. The proposal would require some websites to filter user-generated content. If Article 13 passes, your favourite websites would be obligated to implement systems that monitor user-generated content and automatically remove any content that could potentially infringe upon copyright, giving publishing giants the power to block your online expression.
This means that sites like YouTube, Tumblr, GitHub, Soundcloud, etc., could be required to block the upload of content based on whether it has been “identified” by big corporations, rather than based on its legality.
Monitoring billions of posts per day would require automated systems that unfairly censor legal speech and expression. Algorithms are to blame for many of the most abusive takedown notices in the U.S., and now those same algorithms would block the upload of content, rather than taking it down and allowing users to counter-notify. Instead of this kind of censorship, we need positive rules that respect creators, prioritize free expression, and are shaped democratically.
But Article 13 isn’t set in stone yet. Members of the European Parliament want to do the right thing by their constituents. To know what that is, they need to hear from you.
What can you do to help?
In a few weeks, key Members of the European Parliament will vote on copyright proposals that introduce demands that websites monitor and censor the content we create. You have a voice in the European Parliament. Sending an e-mail to your MEP is the most powerful thing you can do right now.
Here’s what you can tell them: Article 13 of the Copyright Directive would put control over sharing and creating on the Internet in the hands of a few huge media corporations. That’s bad for free expression and privacy. We don’t want mandatory filtering. We don’t want algorithms to spy for copyright infringement. Bots don’t understand parody, public interest exceptions, fair use, or fair dealing. We don’t want our videos, website posts and art blocked because of a biased algorithm.
Many MEPs have already committed to removing these bad proposals, and more can do the same if they know their constituents care.