By Aaron Kesel
After a short delay, European Union lawmakers are continuing their journey to censor the Internet and have agreed on changes to the text of Articles 11,12 and 13, The Independent reported. Meanwhile, Anonymous and Pirates are planning on-the-ground and online actions against the proposed Copyright Directives.
Germany and France agreed on a horrendous “compromise” version of Article 13 following heated debated, which claims to protect small businesses. However, in the fine print of the law, it almost protects no website as Julia Reda points out.
To qualify for protection, the website in question has to meet the following criteria:
- Less than 3 years old
- Have less than €10 million ($11 million USD) in revenue
- Have less than 5 million unique visits per month
The new pieces of legislation will be put before MEPs, who will decide on the controversial copyright rules at a later to-be-announced date.
Activists and corporations alike claim the new rules – particularly Article 11 and Article 13 – will forever change central parts of the Internet.
Google and its subsidiary YouTube, as well as Wikipedia and many others, have argued that the new rules could prevent Web users from being able to search and share content as freely as current laws allow.
Julia Reda, a German MEP of Pirate Parties International and prominent opponent to the reforms, expressed outrage:
Dirty deal between France and Germany prevails, for now: Council ready to continue negotiations on the worst version of Article 13 yet, next stop negotiations with Parliament. Call your MEPs now!
Dirty deal between France and Germany prevails, for now: Council ready to continue negotiations on the worst version of #Article13 yet, next stop negotiations with Parliament. Call your MEPs now! https://t.co/tMqBgPkVz7 #SaveYourInternet #uploadfilters pic.twitter.com/u7n07CDeLC
— Julia Reda (@Senficon) February 8, 2019
As Activist Post previously reported, Article 13 is designed to make website owners responsible for the content that users post on their websites, effectively forcing website owners to move behind an upload filter to protect themselves against huge claims by copyright owners and agencies that work on their behalfs like the MPAA and RIAA. Article 11 is an even worse concept. That has been dubbed the “link tax” article; if passed, linking to any copyrighted material is taxed upon.
Imagine wanting to link to a news article because you want to have a free discussion about it? Under the law, you the user may now need to pay to link the article of copyrighted material — absolute insanity!
This is something that “will destroy our internet, And we cannot accept it. So we are fighting back. Activists, hacktivists and pirates are now uniting under the banner of StopACTA2,” Anonymous Bites Back writes.
Anonymous Bites Back further expresses that the radio show hosted by Anons is in “full support of the (street) protests against these Orwellian moves to censor the internet. We have had several episodes about this subject already, and we plan to join the protesters on the street and broadcast live to our network.”
So what has changed since then? Not much. However, it may be good news that Italy is now on our side and has denounced the Articles, telling the rest of the EU to drop Articles 11 And 13 from the Copyright Directive to protect Internet users.
“The priority for Italy is the elimination of the link tax and direct or indirect filters on the content uploaded by the users of the platforms, together with an extension of the exceptions to copyright allowing the development of the data economy. Under these conditions, Italy is ready to adhere to a proposal that should come from the Romanian Presidency,” Luigi Di Maio, Minister of Economic Development said.
“We are calling for change at the European level – concludes the Minister – of the famous articles 11 and article 13 of the directive. The network must be kept free and neutral because it is a fundamental infrastructure for the free expression of citizens as well as for the Italian system and for the European Union itself “.
This means that unofficially the countries that opposed the directive as it was were: Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Slovakia, Sweden, and Malta. Slovenia chose to abstain, Poland In, reported. That leaves 20 countries, or 19 if Brexit goes through, to decide the fate of the Internet and freedom of information.
Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda notes that users will be responsible and liable for any copyright infringements they make on Internet platforms.
“The negotiators have reached agreement on the core of Article 13, which will change the internet as we know it: They want to make internet platforms directly liable for any copyright infringements their users commit,” Reda notes.
Reda further expresses that the final negotiations will drag on until later this week.
The first “final” trilogue on #copyright is starting now. Probably negotiations will drag on until tomorrow and Wednesday. Will give a brief update later tonight. #SaveYourInternet #Article13 #UploadFilters
— Julia Reda (@Senficon) February 11, 2019
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) warns that the proposed policies will increase censorship and surveillance throughout Europe creating a Stasi state. The digital rights organization specifically calls on people from Germany, Sweden, Poland, and Luxembourg, to speak out.
“Your national government depends on your goodwill to win the votes to continue its mandate. This is a rare moment in European lawmaking when local connections from citizens matter more than well-funded, international corporations,” EFF writes.
Supporters of the fight against ACTA 2 include wolnemedia, SoMee.Social, Bitchute, Presearch, blogmedia24, Anonymous Bites Back, wykop, polskapartiapiratow, Pirate Parties International, kontestacja, Hackread.com, inspro, Stowarzyszenie Libertarianskie, Anonymous Info Army Poland, and Anon Ops Poland according to the StopActa2.org website.
Numerous other organizations and individuals are coming out and speaking about the negotiations of Articles 11, 12a and 13 and what’s fundamentally wrong with them.
Already, 54 NGOs including the EFF and 40 academics have issued separate open letters to the EU Council stating these “texts risk creating severe impediments” or the Internet and its users.
The NGOs declared that the implementation of Article 11 is both unnecessary, as well as a risk to a majority of media and hinders the ability of users to share information. Similarly, they note that Article 13’s requirement for “error-prone, intrusive and legally questionable” upload filters represent a threat to fundamental rights, leading to the blocking of legitimate content.
Academics have expressed much of the same concerns when rumors began that the EU was discussing the potential copywrong policies in 2016.
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However, scholars note they are doubtful of “CJEU case law and its reference to the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and whether Article 13 of the proposed copyright Directive is actually proportionate, even if Article 17(2) of the European Charter provides that intellectual property shall be protected, as Article 17(2) does not have the same beneficiary basis as Articles 7 and 11. Articles 7 and 11 of the European Charter are fundamental pillars of any democratic society. Copyright infringements should not be put too quickly in the same category as serious crimes such as child pornography.”
In December, a more than 4 million strong petition of Internet users and businesses was sent to the European Parliament calling for an end to the ACTA 2 proposals in the various Articles for “reforming digital copyright law.”
EFF notes that the petition was created because the law will inevitably lead to the creation of algorithmic copyright filters that only US Big Tech companies can afford (making the field less competitive and thus harder for working artists to negotiate better deals in) and because these filters will censor enormous quantities of legitimate material, thanks to inevitable algorithmic errors and abuse.
Creative Sectors are also calling for a suspension of negotiations on Article 13 with 14 organizations calling for its halt, according to Creative Refresh another group supporting a “free and open Internet.”
Creative Sectors Call for a suspension of negotiations on Article 13 #SaveYourInternet
— Create.Refresh (@CreateRefresh) January 15, 2019
Behind the scenes, it appears several movements are working on an Internet blackout similar to 2012 when activists fought against the original ACTA proposing laws for the Internet. To put things into further perspective for readers, what’s occurring in the EU is ACTA on steroids; the consequences if this passes will forever change the Internet. Websites will be required to purchase expensive and problematic upload filters, and user-generated content will almost seemingly cease to exist because it will also be impossible to link to source material, including educational content. Oh and if you like memes — those, too, can be copyrighted and licensed.
Wikipedia and WikiTribune founder Jimmy Wales tweeted he would support an Internet blackout to bring attention to the current growing crisis.
It isn't up to me. But, I would support it, yes.
— Jimmy Wales (@jimmy_wales) February 6, 2019
Meanwhile, this writer has seen chatter in various chat rooms about potential hacktivists actions if the EU goes through with these proposals and more so if they pass. There are also activists who are organizing on-the-ground protests that will be announced in the coming weeks.
Anonymous and Pirates everywhere are calling on the general public to protest like never before and flood the streets of Europe to send a message — hands off our Internet, help Save Your Internet.
We urgently ask you to do everything in your power to support the StopACTA2 movement that is coordinated by the Polish StopACTA2 crew and the crew of Anonymous Worldwide and many others including Pirate Parties International with its co-chair Bailey Lamon and board member Raymond Johansen.
Pirates and Copyright activists
Pls follow @stopActa2_eu fighting article 11 & 13 digitally and with boots on the ground. @PPInternational, will coordinate between these people and the #Pirate efforts. Behind them U will find the most effective #anonymous crew there is today. pic.twitter.com/WDv3ELvg1v
— Raymond Johansen (@RayJoha2) January 13, 2019
The first wave of street protests in at least 20 different cities in 15 countries took place on January 19, 2019 all across Europe. A new date has been announced for March 23:
#StopACTA2 will have #EU wide street protests on #March23rd.
We will go to the streets in all #EU countries that will be victim of #Article11 and #Article13 (#ACTA2) copyright directives.
Visit https://t.co/6RiW8e38og for the protest locations (updated soon!)#SaveYourInternet pic.twitter.com/EPCG3oeR7p
— Anonymous 🍀 (@YourMarkLubbers) February 13, 2019
Share this article, organize together amongst one another and send a message, show the powers-that-be that the Internet belongs to the people and not the corporations or the power-hungry elites that seek to profit from the free sharing of information.
On social media, supporters are using the following hashtags for digital protests — #stopACTA2, #CopyrightDirective, #SaveYourInternet, #SaveTheInternet, #Article11, #Article13, #UploadFilters, #LinkTax, #Filternet, #ACTA2 #Anonymous.
You can find out more information by visiting StopActa2.org, a website being run to support operation Stop Acta 2. The website will be kept up to date with a full list of the existing protest locations. Are you an experienced organizer who wants to help organize in Europe for protesting against ACTA 2? Then contact [email protected] for any information, or if you want to start your own protest. As this article details, the cards are stacked against European MEPs; the more presence they see from we the people, the further they might listen instead of passing a dual draconian Orwellian law that threatens Internet freedoms, as well as smaller independent publications:
Because #ACTA2 will make it so u have to be significantly rich to run a website blogs & independent journalism will vanish. Allowing govts & their contractor cronies to run amok & pass us off fake reports like the Downing St memo to invade countries. #StopActa2 #SaveYourInternet https://t.co/YCehnpWYzn
— ⒶK #Unity4J⌛🎗️(₿)☠️ (@An0nAKn0wledge) February 13, 2019
What’s of note, and could be a possible glance into our Orwellian dystopian future, Spain and France — two countries embroiled in protests (France with Gilets Jaunes and Spain with free Catalonia) — are desperately pushing ACTA 2. One has to wonder if this is to silence dissident voices online. As an example, let’s say a video was uploaded of a street protest. If there is a business seen in that footage, the video could then seemingly be taken down for “copyright.” This would all be done with the upload filter which would detect a business’s logo and prevent the video from ever being uploaded online. Similarly, France President Emmanuel Macron and Spain President Mariano Rajoy could use a new tactic — just pay someone to go sing copyrighted lyrics like a Michael Jackson song at the protest and any videos uploaded would be flagged.
Now that might sound crazy or silly, but those are the type of tactics that could be deployed if these Articles pass through EU Parliament. “You’ve been hit by; you’ve been struck by a smooth criminal and all I want to say is that they don’t really care about us.”
Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post. Support us at Patreon. Follow us on Minds, Steemit, SoMee, BitChute, Facebook and Twitter. Ready for solutions? Subscribe to our premium newsletter Counter Markets.
Image credit: LoboTaker/DeviantArt