As we announced in July, the OTW has partnered with the Save the Link coalition in an effort to prevent countries around the world from creating laws that would punish online services for linking to disfavored material or otherwise harm people’s right to use hyperlinks online.
Using Copyright Law to Kill Hyperlinks?
Recently, a draft communication on copyright reform in the European Union was leaked. This document reveals that the European Commission is considering new copyright rules that could restrict the ability of online platform (like the AO3, Tumblr, and other fan favorite sites) to contain links to copyrighted material, or could even make those platforms legally liable for content posted by their users. Earlier this year, the European Parliament firmly rejected a proposal that could have resulted in a new EU-wide ‘Link Tax’, and this leaked document appears to be an attempt to raise the issue once more.
In addition to raising the issue of “ancillary copyright” (that is, extending the concept of copyright infringement beyond copying, to include mere linking to copyrighted material), the leaked document also suggests adopting stronger laws regarding “intermediary liability”–that is, laws that would make online platforms legally liable for content posted by their users.
“If these proposals proceed unchanged, it would effectively change the Internet beyond all recognition,” said Meghan Sali, digital rights specialist for OpenMedia. “Without links to lead us around the Web, the content we want to see would be locked away. Even giant websites like Facebook and Twitter may end up censoring content if they think they’ll be liable for everything their users link to. That’s why it’s crucial for users across the globe to speak directly to the Commission and tell them to reject this reckless plan.”
These proposals come on the heels of some worrying new laws and rulings in Germany, Spain, Russia, and Canada, and at the same time that similar efforts are being made in the US.
What You Can Do
Save the Link has recently launched an Internet Voice Tool to collect feedback on this issue. The European Commission has requested input from internet users, and Save the Link’s Internet Voice Tool allows you to easily submit information about your own opinions and online experiences. The more feedback they receive, the more evidence they have that copyrighting links would drastically change the internet for the worse. Share your voice today!