In 2017 I remember covering a story about how the European Union was actively debating turning internet service into a “social service” provided on behalf of the Government. Meaning that it was the intention of the European Union to provide “free” internet access/WiFi to every citizen by the year 2020. Essentially, as a socialist union, the EU was working to incorporate internet access/coverage in with each citizens yearly taxes. While this raised many red flags to me at the time, such as the Government itself acting as an internet service provider, therefore opening the door towards widespread abuse of data and Government mass surveillance, a new initiative being proposed by the EU has me equally as concerned – just for different reasons.
This would be the news that, as was first reported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), in conjunction with a new Copyright Directive, the European Union is actively debating/considering “a negotiated, paid license for links that contain excerpts of news stories.” Implying that “anyone who wants to link to the news has to have a separate, commercial license; and (2) news companies can’t waive this right, even through Creative Commons licenses and other tools for granting blanket permission.” Put a different way, this means that in order for any journalist, publisher, website or news organization to legally link to a story produced by any other journalist, publisher, website or new organization would first require a mutually negotiated contract and some form of payment exchange between the two parties – which would be subjected to Government tax. And under no circumstances could these conditions be waived
As an example of how this would work, do you see how I quoted and linked/connected the EFF’s “report” in with my second paragraph and this sentence? If these new directives go forward as presently written, then what I just did would be considered “illegal” and a violation of EU Copyright Law. That’s right, that’s how far the EU is debating taking these new laws.
— EFF (@EFF) October 28, 2018
Why Is This Happening?
It is important to understand that the whole “Fake News” epidemic actually kicked off in European Nations well before it reached the United States in late 2015 – just ask Angela Merkel about that. For this very reason, especially given how “progressive” Socialism naturally is, the EU now believes it is their duty to set world precedent and protect/preserve the rights of legitimate news organization operating out of their countries in the future.
Are They Taking It Too Far?
My personal philosophy when it comes to reporting the news is that it is disrespectful and unprofessional to not directly link to work/sources you are citing or basing your work off of. In fact, I once advised David Hearst of Middle East Eye to tell his authors/editors to begin placing more hyperlinks in with their stories in order to give his readers more sources of information to read about.
For example, I am giving the EFF respect for their original reporting by including them in this article. I am not trying to steal their work, secretly or otherwise, as the EU might have you believe. Moreover, linking to outside sources gives each individual news reader more resources/perspective to draw upon to learn more about any given story/issue. In this way, I believe hyperlinks to be a vital tool for education – which is exactly why I try to incorporate as many of them as possible into some of my articles. At the same time, hyperlinks actually help websites like the EFF and other like them reach more people/viewers over time, because as soon as I link them to an article the EFF can start generating traffic to their site from mine – as opposed to just theirs on its own.
The EU on the other hand looks at the situation completely different, and believes that they have to crack down on hyperlinks in order to protect/preserve news organizations and their original content. As the EFF puts it, “The idea that creators can be protected by banning them from sharing their works is perverse. If copyright is supposed to protect creators’ interests, it should protect all interests, including the interests of people who want their materials shared as widely as possible.” At the present moment in time these new measures have not been passed into law, they are simply up for debate. But if you feel like I do, then now is the time to make your voices heard and let the EU know that what they are considering is unacceptable and Draconian – such measures are not “innovative,” and would only set the news industry backwards.