Today there was a vote in the European Parliament on one of the most harmful Internet laws that the EU could ever adopt. The revision of the copyright was on the program and a number of the draft articles bumped almost everyone who understands the internet against the chest. The whole story is here but in short it would mean that a kind of censorship filter would be laid over the net in Europe, which we would be bothered by as users and that the existing large companies only more firmly in the saddle.
Your vote counts indeed
Striking is what all the noise around the law has contributed to that. An employee of D66 parliamentarian Marietje Schaake was able to tell that in the history of the European Commission, so many worried letters, e-mails and phone calls have never been received. There were more than 7000 messages in there alone, but in countries such as Sweden and Poland there was so intense and frequent contact with the MEPs that telephone lines had to be closed in order to be able to work normally. It is truly unprecedented and, in particular, that opposition from citizens has ensured that the vote has this outcome.
So the democratic system works, because the employee also had an answer to the question of how such a draft law could have come anyway. “This is a clear example of law on request”, said the man. For articles 11 and 13 both large publishers such as the German Axel Springer and the European representation of record companies IFPI have been very firmly lobbying. That does not mean that the 25 members who have come to these laws have received a big bag of money, by the way: the influence is a lot more subtle, such as passing stars to parliament to take pictures and shake hands, to but an example.
If no one had interfered with it, the law might have gotten through, but in the light of so much concern among the European citizens, the other members of parliament have now put a stop to it. The extent to which some members of the committee were taken in by the large lobby organizations did show when the chairman of that committee Axel Voss could only say at the end of the discussion that all these reports had been made by bots tech companies were deployed, and that all other people with knowledge of the internet “did not understand.” That would all be ‘fake news’.
The fight is not over yet
Fortunately, most of the MEPs have been looking through the lobby and the law for now is out of the question. But how is it going now? The copyright law is now open to amendments until September, which means that articles 11 and 13 are likely to be given a substantial adjustment if they are not already deleted altogether. Each Member of Parliament can now propose amendments and this will be voted on in the next plenary session on 10 September.
This means that a lot of people will now start thinking about how copyright can be better protected (in a noble way) without destroying the entire internet. If all of the amendments have been made, a full vote must be taken once again to pass the law, but by that time the law will hopefully be amended so that it is acceptable to all parties. One thing is certain: the progress of this story will be watched with suspicion, but until we know a bit more we can at least release the memes.