EU Article 11 and 13 Internet Copyright Laws Finalized

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The text for the controversial Article 11 and Article 13 has been finalized.

For those unfamiliar with our prior coverage, Articles 11 and 13 are set to impose laws to aid in protecting copyright infringement within the European Union, but via a methodology that some argue could destroy the internet for the EU as we know it.

While Article 11 proposes a tax on posting hyperlinks, Article 13 would demand AI upload filters to detect any copyrighted content from being uploaded to the Internet. Both have been criticized by free-speech and open internet activists as draconian and guaranteed to hinder those not violating those laws anyway.

Article 13 also states that websites would become liable for the content user’s upload- with copyrighted content – much like the SESTA/FOSTA law in the US that amends section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Due to the transformative nature of memes and the vast majority of internet content as a whole, websites like Youtube, Twitter, Imgur, Twitch, and more would struggle to operate as they do now in the EU should the laws pass.

In addition, they may operate on a “better-safe-than-sorry” approach, and take drastic measures to ensure they are not susceptible to copyright infringement lawsuits.

Some have also expressed concerns that websites outside the EU may not just simply block access from the EU, but adapt to these laws, effectively subjecting the rest of the world to it.

The core of Articles 11 and 13 were agreed on September 12th 2018, and both have now been finalized. European MP Julia Reda, who has been an outspoken critic of the bills, explained some of the new conditions via her website, along with “unofficial consolidated versions” you can find here (Article 11) and here (Article 13).

Article 13 states:

“Commercial sites and apps where users can post material must make “best efforts” to preemptively buy licences for anything that users may possibly upload – that is: all copyrighted content in the world. An impossible feat.”

Furthermore, most websites would “need to do everything in their power to prevent anything from ever going online that may be an unauthorized copy of a work that a rightsholder has registered with the platform” most likely via upload filters.

Reda also suggests only small and new websites would be except. Meanwhile the Electronic Frontier Foundation claimed (along with their condemnation of the laws), claims it applies to websites or service that have existed for three or more years, or is making €10,000,001 per year or more.

Finally, if a website’s licensing or filtering is not sufficient, the sites are “directly liable for infringements as if they had committed them themselves.” Reda fears websites will “over-comply,” harming freedom of speech online.

Article 11 meanwhile allegedly states, “Reproducing more than “single words or very short extracts” of news stories will require a licence.”

Reda states that while “That will likely cover many of the snippets commonly shown alongside links today in order to give you an idea of what they lead to,” that the law is too vague to know how it will be enforced.

In addition, Article 11 offers no exceptions “even for services run by individuals, small companies or non-profits, which probably includes any monetized blogs or websites.”

Other provisions include allowing text and data mining to improve AI technologies. “Rightholders can opt out of having their works datamined by anyone except research organisations.” Reda also claims that Author’s rights to proportionate remuneration “has been severely watered down: Total buy-out contracts will continue to be the norm.”

As a minor positive note, Reda states that “Libraries will be able to publish out-of-commerce works online and museums will no longer be able to claim copyright on photographs of centuries-old paintings.”

Reda states that these laws can still be stopped before they are brought into law.

“The Parliament and Council negotiators who agreed on the final text now return to their institutions seeking approval of the result. If it passes both votes unchanged, it becomes EU law, which member states are forced to implement into national law.”

“In both bodies, there is resistance.”

Reda states that the EU Parliament will first need the approval of the Legal Affairs Committee, “likely to be given” on February 18th. Next, on a yet to be determined date the EU member state governments will vote.

“The law can be stopped here either by 13 member state governments or by any number of governments who together represent 35% of the EU population (calculator). Last time, 8 countries representing 27% of the population were opposed. Either a large country like Germany or several small ones would need to change their minds: This is the less likely way to stop it.

Our best bet: The final vote in the plenary of the European Parliament, when all 751 MEPs, directly elected to represent the people, have a vote. This will take place either between March 25 and 28, on April 4 or between April 15 and 18. We’ve already demonstrated last July that a majority against a bad copyright proposal is achievable.”

This plenary vote can “kill the bill,” or propose changes as drastic as removing Articles 11 and 13. The EU Council would then have to decide whether to accept new changes and pass the law during the March 25th to 28th session or the April 15th to 18th session. Alternatively, it could be halted until after the EU elections in May.

The final Parliament vote will happen mere weeks before the EU elections. Most MEPs – and certainly all parties – are going to be seeking reelection. Articles 11 and 13 will be defeated if enough voters make these issues relevant to the campaigns. (Here’s how to vote in the EU elections – change the language to one of your country’s official ones for specific information)

It is up to you to make clear to your representatives: Their vote on whether to break the internet with Articles 11 and 13 will make or break your vote in the EU elections. Be insistent – but please always stay polite.

Reda then shows links to to find your EU representatives, calling or visiting your MEP’s office, visiting campaign and party events, and signing a petition. The petition is currently at 4,749,412 out of a goal of six million.

Protests have also been mounting since February 16th, and Reda’s Twitter feed has been monitoring the event. The protests were also broadcast on Twitch.

At this time we are unsure how this would affect Niche Gamer and our European based staff, such as myself, should these laws pass. We will keep you updated as we learn more.


Ryan was a former Niche Gamer contributor.

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