Dear Madam/ Sir,
Thank you for having expressed your concerns about the EU Directive on Copyright and in particular your concerns regarding the measures proposed in Article 11 (the “link tax”) and Article 13 (“censorship machines“).
On Thursday, I voted against the negotiating mandate on ancillary copyright. And we succeeded! 318 Members voted against, only 278 for the negotiating mandate. Above all, many Social Democrats, Liberals, Greens and leftists voted today against the mandate, the vast majority of Christian Democrats in favour. The negotiating mandate thus enters the second round and will be put back on the plenary agenda in September. This is a serious defeat for rapporteur Axel Voss (CDU/EPP, Bonn). Together with many other critics, we Greens have now the chance to improve the mandate!
Copyright law regulates a difficult balance of interests: the rights of authors, artists and publishers on the one hand and the rights of users and creatives on the other. The directive on copyright in the digital single market is of great importance for citizens’ rights and fair competition in digital markets. It is right to better protect publishers, artists and other right holders against digital exploitation. It is unacceptable that Google, Facebook and YouTube, for example, generate billions in advertising revenue, but refuse to pay appropriately for creators of creative content such as music, newspaper articles, films and so on.
Nevertheless, the negotiating mandate under the leadership of Axel Voss (CDU/EPP, Bonn) goes too far in decisive areas. The text introduces new obligations that cannot be implemented in practice, do not create fair competition and excessively restrict fundamental rights.
We are against the introduction of ancillary copyright for press publishers (Art. 11) and instead support the compromise proposal for a legal presumption rule for press publishers presented by the Estonian Council Presidency in August 2017. Above all, it makes no sense to grant press publishers the right to negotiate remuneration with dominant platforms. For example, if news pages from newspaper publishers are compiled on Google News, it is understandable that newspaper publishers want to be remunerated for this. But responding to this problem with a right to negotiate remuneration will lead nowhere. Google is so dominant that the news pages are in fact forced to accept to be listed without remuneration. The introduction of a similar ancillary copyright in Germany and Spain has already led to royalty-free negotiation results between Google and the operators of the news pages. At the same time, the new ancillary copyright law hinders the emergence of new providers that could compete with Google News or other platforms. In this way, the dominance of Google & Co. is ultimately strengthened without really benefiting the rights holders. We urgently need a European regulatory authority that regulates market-dominant platforms and also enforces fair remuneration for publishers, artists and so on. However, the ancillary copyright proposed by Axel Voss will help little, but cause great damage. It is right and proper that it should now be revised.
We also reject the use of filter technology on the Internet. The risk for the freedom of expression and the arts as well as for further abuse is enormous if content is automatically controlled and publication is prevented. The term “upload filter” does not appear directly in Article 13. However, the only logical consequence of the foreseen call for technical protection measures is the use of filter technology to control the corresponding content. This is the only way for companies and platform providers to protect themselves against legal challenges would this rule come into force. Even the coalition agreement of the grand coalition in Germany clearly opposes binding upload filters. There is a danger that much content will disappear from the Internet because of uncertainties about liability issues, even if the content is completely legitimate. That would be a disservice to an open Internet and freedom of expression on the net.
We agree that the proposed measures pose a threat to fundamental freedoms and to the Internet as a whole. Our group position reflects your concerns and we will continue to support your demands.
A better Parliament text is needed to better reconcile the interests of artists and publishers, citizens, innovative internet companies and users. After this successful vote, a better text is also possible and you have also contributed to this!
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With thanks for your interest and commitment and green European greetings