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Black Pigeon Speaks has made this succinct and informative clip about the implications of the EU’s proposed legislation, Article 13. While it alleges to address copyright infringement, it actually seeks to impose taxes on the most elemental functions of the Internet.

Under Article 13, content being uploaded to online platforms would be required to pass through mechanical content filters to determine whether or not it violates any copyrights, worldwide.

So far, this is not unlike measures that YouTube has already been making available to copyright holders of motion pictures in a more covert and unregulated way for several years. Where it diverges from Silicon Valley’s Corporatist model is that this is not merely automated censorship but a supranational taxing scheme.

Any user trying to post “infringing” content online will have to pay a tax. This would include the posting of inline hyperlinks to other websites – the most basic function of the Internet, being that “HTTP” stands for “Hypertext Transfer Protocol”.

The directive completely disregards foundational concepts of the Digital Age, including Fair Use, Creative Commons and Open Source.

Online platforms will be required to implement complex and expensive filtering systems and will be held liable for copyright infringement, potentially incurring fines that threaten their economic viability. This could destroy many smaller companies that cannot bear the cost of implementing such filters and likewise destroy the aspirations of new entrants before they even start.

Article 13 threatens personal blogs, gamer livestreams, video producers, discussion platforms like Reddit and 4chan and even Facebook. The sharing of memes, parodies remixes and even the ability to link to this video would be pretty much impossible, under Article 13, whether the content was used in a fair use context or not.

Outside of the taxing aspect, the complaints that many have about Article 13 are things that I have already seen in place for years, such filters allowing entire countries to block all content from certain websites.

The Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) that people currently use to sidestep censorship and surveillance may also become obsolete, as the filters would most likely be tasked to detect the use of these.

Black Pigeon Speaks foresees only a decade, at most of a mostly free and open Internet if there is no immediate and significant pushback against moves like Article 13. He urges those within the EU contact your representatives in the European Parliament and also to strike the alarm and to inform everyone you know about the scope of this proposed law.

Alexandra Bruce

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