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EU Planning To Tax Internet Users Who Criticise Mainstream Media Outlets

Unelected EU lawmakers will vote on a proposed Copyright Reform law

By: Daniel Newton  |@NeonNettle
 on 20th June 2018 @ 8.58pm
unelected eu lawmakers will vote on a proposed copyright reform law © press
Unelected EU lawmakers will vote on a proposed Copyright Reform law

The European Union wants to tax citizens who criticize mainstream media outlets and politicians online, according to a new law being proposed as part of an internet "free speech crackdown."

Today, unelected EU lawmakers will vote on a proposed Copyright Reform law - including Article 11 (the “link tax”) - that will force “force anyone using snippets of journalistic online content to get a license for the publisher first — essentially outlawing current business models of most aggregators and news apps.”

Article 11 will outlaw the fair use reporting of news articles, such as this one your reading now. 

Even critics warn that vagueness of Article 11 could ban websites like Drudge Report from linking to new articles. 

eu planning to tax internet users who criticise mainstream media outlets © press

According to BoingBoing.net

Article 11’s link tax allows news sites to decide who gets to link to them, meaning that they can exclude their critics.

With election cycles dominated by hoaxes and fake news, the right of a news publisher to decide who gets to criticize it is carte blanche to lie and spin.

“That will end (it) for me – fine – I’ve had a hell of a run,” said Drudge, warning web users were being forced into the Internet “ghettos” of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

“This is ghetto, this is corporate, they’re taking your energy and you’re getting nothing in return – nothing!”

So far, the focus in the debate has been on the intended consequences of the proposals: the idea that a certain amount of free expression and competition must be sacrificed to enable rightsholders to force Google and Facebook to share their profits.

But the unintended -- and utterly foreseeable -- consequences are even more important. Article 11's link tax allows news sites to decide who gets to link to them, meaning that they can exclude their critics.

With election cycles dominated by hoaxes and fake news, the right of a news publisher to decide who gets to criticise it is carte blanche to lie and spin.

Article 13's copyright filters are even more vulnerable to attack: the proposals contain no penalties for false claims of copyright ownership, but they do mandate that the filters must accept copyright claims in bulk, allowing rightsholders to upload millions of works at once in order to claim their copyright and prevent anyone from posting them.

eu planning to tax internet users who criticise mainstream media outlets © press

That opens the doors to all kinds of attacks.

The obvious one is that trolls might sow mischief by uploading millions of works they don't hold the copyright to, in order to prevent others from quoting them: the works of Shakespeare, say, or everything ever posted to Wikipedia, or my novels, or your family photos.

More insidious is the possibility of targeted strikes during crisis: stock-market manipulators could use bots to claim copyright over news about a company, suppressing its sharing on social media; political actors could suppress key articles during referendums or elections; corrupt governments could use arms-length trolls to falsely claim ownership of footage of human rights abuses.

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