When the European Parliament rejected a major EU copyright law proposal last week, it was a significant victory for big tech companies, and possibly—as some argue—internet freedom as a whole, or at least the freedom to meme virally.
The whole thing was about trying to do the impossible: make sure content creators are paid for everything everyone uses in this hyper-connected world.
The European Parliament will take another crack at copyright laws in September, but tech giants are chalking this up to a defeat for the likes of (among many others) Beatles legend Paul McCartney, who was one of the biggest lobbying forces behind the proposed law.
It had also earned the support of publishers such as Agence France Press (AFP) at a time when these traditional media outlets are being crushed by newcomers offering free online news. In the same vein, artists are losing out to the digital free-for-all, while tech giants are capitalizing on the same.
But tradition, in this case, is going to have to come up with a different game plan or be swallowed alive.
The proposed law was designed to give publishers and content creators a life-line for revenues lost to the digital era due to lack of protection for legally copyrighted material regurgitated by tech giants, including Google’s Youtube and Facebook.
The biggest sticking point was the part of the law that would have made online platforms liable for spinning material by users that was under copyright. In other words, if a Youtuber used something that was copyrighted, Google would be held legally liable.
Opponents coming out on the tech side of this debate have sounded the alarm bells over what would ultimately turn out to be censorship of the internet, while others, like McCartney, argue that the free-for-fall is jeopardizing the music “ecosystem”.
In an open letter to European Parliament ahead of the vote, McCartney said: “We need an Internet that is fair and sustainable for all. But 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 value gap is that gulf between value these platforms derive from that music and the value they pay creators.” Related: How Will Gold Respond To Escalating Tariff Wars?
Tech giants insist that this is a victory for democracy, and that a ‘yes’ vote in European Parliament would have meant the death of creativity.
European MP Julia Reda, from the German Pirate Party, chimed in on the proposed law, saying “It’s illusory to believe that all platforms will just take out licenses from all news sources for all EU countries. That’s a near-impossible feat. Those affected the worst will be people living in small member states and those wanting to link to less well-known sources—discriminating people based on their country and harming media pluralism.”
What it comes down to is this: Who would we rather have control the media—media outlets or tech giants?
It’s a question that doesn’t even need to be answered because the lobbying power will win this regardless, and that means the tech giants.
All told, according to Bloomberg, Google threw $36 million at this European copyright mosquito—and it was only one of the tech giants in play.
By Damir Kaletovic for Safehaven.com
More Top Reads From Safehaven.com: