18/05/2019

Article 13: Monopoly Instead of Competition?

Article 13: Monopoly Instead of Competition?

Article 13 has been recently accepted by the EU parliament. The event has raised a lot of controversy regarding Internet freedom, because many users will find themselves unable to access their favorite resources. Happily, BroVPN is there to help you.


The newly accepted Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market allows for a much stricter regulation of copyright activity online. The event has sparked a heated debate among ordinary Internet users, as well as tech corporations, society organizations, scientists, etc. There is an opinion that Article 13 of the directive is way too tough, as it goes against the copyright law, violate traditional democratic rights, such as freedom of speech and many other individuals’ rights. Sadly, things do not look like there is somebody wanting to amend the bill.

This new law places the burden on the shoulders of major hosting and social media companies, which host and handle tons of user-generated content, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. So far, these companies responsibility for users’ content would have come down to not letting uses post materials infringing on intellectual property rights and copyright.

The supporters of the new law believe that the bill should oblige these platforms to share revenue with copyright owners – musicians, artists, narrators, etc., who create content and share it with the world. Those who oppose the acceptance of the bill say that, vice versa, it is going to give more power to large corporations, as they will be the only ones who will have the money to buy tools that ensure abidance by copyright laws. There is no telling how exactly this new law is going to be enforced in different countries.

EU member states will be to pass their local copyright laws two years after the directive is made public. After that, the Article 13 requirements will become laws. As long as it is a directive, governmental authorities of each EU country have time to consider it and outline their own versions with consideration of local specifics. EU members enjoy the freedom to adjust the law in in so far as it fits particular socioeconomic environments.

What is so Bad about Article 13?

According to Article 13, content and media sharing service providers should cooperate with copyright owners and do their best to prevent unauthorized use of materials posted by users and avoid sharing copyright materials without copyright owners’ consent. This sounds like a good idea. However, there is little certainty about how this noble goal is going to be achieved. It should be noted that the directive’s previous version did mention “proportionate content recognition,” which, obviously, meant some kind of upload filter. The controversy arises out of lack of understanding by what criteria these materials are going to be filtered out. It is almost certain that tons of worthwhile content and media will be banned, and crowds of users will end up with their rights violated.

Another problem is the ambiguity of copyright law. The directive does clearly state that one of its goals is protecting criticism. The law is said not to restrict parodies and caricatures. Actually, the would-be law is said to protect memes. However, whether or not the filter will be able to properly distinguish between a meme and a counterfeit product, is still a question. Trying to avoid penalties for unknowingly violating someone’s rights, platforms are going to be overprotective and they will have to ban whatever seems to raise the slightest doubt or controversy. There will be tons of disputes over who owns what. The EU authorities’ ban-them-all-and-let-God-sort-them-out attitude looks pretty much like going down the path of the least resistance. To many bloggers, content writers, and media service providers, letting robots censor their materials like this sounds like a weird idea.

Internet Whales Will Become Monopolies

There are good reasons to suspect that the new initiative will make pretty much rob medium-sized and small Internet companies and individuals (those not using free VPN) of free speech, while endowing the bigger ones with more freedom and power to police it. One should but a little bit closer look at it to see what really is happening. Officially, the directive is said to pave the way for some cloud services, marketplaces, and platforms, but only if:

The service, marketplace, platform, etc. has been around for at least three years;

Its annual turnover is at least €10 million;

It has at least five million visits each month.

As a result, there will be a demand for expensive filtering tools, which only a few Internet companies can afford. Those will be like YouTube Content ID, which is already in use, and it has cost about $60 to develop. If such tools are equally applied to whales, medium-sized and small companies, the former will actually monopolize the market and kill off or assimilate the rest. They will be the ones to decide what free speech means and who deserves it.

Ways to Protect Free Speech Against Article 13

BroVPN wants every artist, content writer, blogger, musician, journalist, etc., to do their favorite work and continue to get money for it. The company does not agree that it would be fair to let monopolies strangle their creative clients. Unfortunately, Article 13 could ruin one of the last stronghold of speech freedom - the Internet, and give it up to the mercy of the bulging Internet whales.

BroVPN is there to show people a legal way around the hindrances, which authorities are trying to put in our ways. The company has a rich experience in fighting for their customers’ rights. The company has raised the issue at the UNO and expressed readiness to counter censorship and oppression. The company provides a free VPN service for clients all over the world. We are always there to help you view blocked websites.

What will happen next, will depend on the tactics, which national governments are going to choose in implementing the new initiative. Some may try to adjust the most restrictive part of it and make it a bit easier for rights holders. It is not unlikely, however, that they will choose the “easier way” of putting additional burden on these users’ shoulders and compelling them to look for new ways of proving their content’s legitimacy.

Although Article 13 has passed, so in some aspects there is no turning back, there is still a chance for the “opposition” to join efforts and take part in the formulation of the new laws. No matter what, we are here there to provide all-time support for those having to fight for the fundamental freedoms and rights against the increasingly restrictive world.

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