“Link tax” – a boost for artists or a threat to the internet as we know it?

July 2018

The EU Copyright Directive is intended to bring rules around content in line with the digital age. The proposed new rules have ignited a battle between the likes of Google, Facebook and YouTube and owners/creators of content. Article 11 and Article 13 are the two most controversial parts of the Directive.

Article 11 requires online content sharing platforms and news aggregators to obtain permission from copyright owners before sharing links. Such permission is likely to incur a fee which has been dubbed by some as the “link tax”.

Article 13 puts more onus on websites to enforce copyright laws and could mean that any online platform that allows users to post text, images, sounds or code will need a way to assess and filter content to ensure that it doesn’t infringe copyright.

Supporters

Press publishers, record labels and artists argue that the amendment will improve copyright rules, giving intellectual-property protection to news and video content.

Paul McCartney wrote to politicians urging them to support the changes "Today, some user-upload content platforms refuse to compensate artists and all music creators fairly for their work while they exploit it for their own profit…The proposed Copyright Directive and its Article 13 would address the value gap and help assure a sustainable future for the music ecosystem and its creators, fans and digital music services alike."

Critics

On the other side of the fence, critics claim that Article 13 could have a massive impact on use of the internet, putting paid to memes and remixes.

There are concerns that websites will be required to scan all content being uploaded and must automatically block anything that may infringe copyright. Artificial intelligence is likely to be used for such filtering however, by its nature it is unlikely to be able to distinguish between content that infringes copyright and fair use, such as satire and memes. 750,000 signatures and counting have been collected for the petition known as “Save Your Internet”.

So what now?

318 lawmakers voted against opening talks with EU countries based on the proposal, while 278 voted in favour. The full European parliament Copyright Directive debate will occur in September.

 

This update was prepared by HGF IP Solicitor Liz Cooper. If you would like further advice on this or any other matter please contact Liz or your usual HGF representative, alternatively visit our Contact Page to get in touch with your nearest HGF office.