European Commission wants to break the web, give publishers the right to charge for inbound links


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/09/15/european-commission-wants-to-b.html


#2

Aside from that whole ‘dude at CERN with a NeXT cube’ thing, which worked out pretty OK, I really can’t help but get a bit nervous when Europeans get near the internet.

Even by the low standards of my home copyright maximalists they still manage to impress.


#3

I would argue that it is about publishers who are too lazy or incompetent to erect their own paywalls and want the government to do it for them.


#4

Since the Commission is unelected, do you suppose that the average European is interested in what they want?


#5

… yea, right, sorry to make you nervous by our bold idea of using the internet. Because of course the problem is “europeans” and not that our corporate assholes and their political lackeys do similar but slightly different attempts to grab as much power and money as they can, exactly like yours. Or like a lot of “europeans” are fighting them.


#6

They may be following the tried-and-tested practise of "here’s an astoundingly crappy idea; let the legislature modify it through amendments etc. into something a bit less crappy and then trumpet that as a great achievement."
After all, it works for most other things.


#7

Iceland look like they would do a good job of looking after it.


#8

So whenever one if those publishers references another piece of work that isn’t their own (polls, studies, articles from other publications, etc.) will they be charged as well?

Oh, and what about bibliographies in books?

And laws referencing private standards?

Don’t forget to tax those people talking about “Mr. Robot” around the water cooler. May as well include them. It’s not like THEY wrote that terrific show. Why should their conversations benefit from the hard work of Sam Esmail?


#9

I dont remember the details but I think it didnt take more than 1 d for the same guys pushing for a similar law here in Spain to start complaining when Google said “great, you want that, I’ll just close Google News Spain”.


#10

Civil servants aren’t usually elected (are they ever?), would you expect these guys to be? They do differ slightly to other civil servants in that they can propose legislation, rather than just writing up legislation proposed by elected officials, but the legislation has to be approved by one or both of the elected branches (depending on the type of legislation). The fact that these dumb proposals have never been voted into effect is decent evidence that the democratic process is working as it should at least. There’s probably a bit more tweaking required to increase the quality of legislation they’re producing, the Treaty of Lisbon has beefed up the checks and balances on their operations already though.


#11

This “unelected” bit is a favorite buzzword of the populist right, but cabinets are quite often unelected.


#12

Fortunately, there is generally little chance such plans will succeed, but greedy corporate players will try again and again to misuse misinformed or corrupted representants to their objectives which is always to make a quick buck before people realize they’ve been fooled.


#13

Even if this was enacted, it wouldn’t do anything but cause people to not link to your stuff. This is especially true with news organizations since they’re all reporting on the same event (granted, with various levels of bias). If I can link to one outlet for free but I have to pay the other guy some moneys to link to theirs, you better believe that I’m going to link to the free one. And then they’ll happily rake in all that ad money.

Plus, there’s no guarantee that social media sites would even allow the paid links. Twitter or Facebook only has to say “Sorry, kid, but they’ll charge us for you to post that. And we don’t think it’s worth it. Oh, does this upset you? Well, what are you gonna do? Go to Google Plus?”


#14

I wonder how many older European Commission documents, press releases, etc. link to pages on domains whose owners have chosen not to renew them. Could you make enough money charging the European Commission access fees to warrant registering those old domains?


#15

Civil servants aren’t usually elected (are they ever?), would you expect these guys to be? They do differ slightly to other civil servants in that they can propose legislation, rather than just writing up legislation proposed by elected officials, but the legislation has to be approved by one or both of the elected branches (depending on the type of legislation).

This “the European Commission are just civil servants, so its fine they aren’t elected” thing is pretty misleading. As well as being the only body that can propose, amend or repeal European legislation, they are also in charge of all the executive functions of the EU, from choosing which companies are enforced against, to what action the EU diplomatic service takes, to determining the detail of billions of Euros of budgets and who gets to spend them. Moreover, unlike almost any civil servant elsewhere in the world, whilst their legislative proposals are subject to the approval of MEPs and nation states, their actions in running the executive are not. They are specifically not accountable to MEPs, who’s only sanction is to sack the whole lot en masse. Unsurprisingly, this is not often used.

To take a US example, it’s like the President being appointed, not elected, and able to decide which laws congress and the senate make.


#16

This isn’t true, they are the only body that can draft legislation, but the Council and Parliament can propose legislation for them to draft (though they have refused to do so on at least one occasion), EU citizens can also propose legislation.

Moreover, unlike almost any civil servant elsewhere in the world, whilst their legislative proposals are subject to the approval of MEPs and nation states, their actions in running the executive are not. They are specifically not accountable to MEPs, who’s only sanction is to sack the whole lot en masse. Unsurprisingly, this is not often used.

This is definitely one of the areas that could be improved.

The commission was created as an independent body to regulate the work the of the two main branches of the EU, I think it’s important that it retains its independence, but that doesn’t mean it should be totally immune from all outside influence, need to be careful not to swing too far the other way though.

To take a US example, it’s like the President being appointed, not elected, and able to decide which laws congress and the senate make.

It would more be like the President being elected by Congress, which is what happens in many countries.


#17

So whenever one if those publishers references another piece of work that isn’t their own (polls, studies, articles from other publications, etc.) will they be charged as well?

They’ll probably establish a clearinghouse of some sort (like GEMA or ASCAP for the music industry) and pay royalties. This will protect the big players, and they’ll use the royalties to sue the little players, like bloggers.

(A voice in my head just told me I shoulda benna lawyer.)

Oh, and what about bibliographies in books?

And what about recommending a book to your friend? Hey there’s an app for that! It listens in on your conversations, and anytime you mention a book or an author it automatically pays the publisher a royalty, and charges your phone bill.

(OK, now I’m starting to scare myself.)


#18

Enough with the bullshit. The Commission is nominated by YOUR GODDAMN ELECTED GOVERNMENTS. Jesus fuck, you don’t like the commission, DON’T ELECT SHITBAG GOVERNMENTS.

Oh, and also DON’T IGNORE EUROPEAN ELECTIONS, since EuroParliament is the only place where crazy Commission proposals can die. Which will likely happen this time as well, exactly as last time they tried to push it.


#19

But MEPs can veto legislation, so they can (and do) block crazy commissioners in their tracks. Because the European legislation process is all about reaching wide consensus through horse-trading, every time MEPs and Commissioners clash too brutally, the proposal dies; and a Commissoner that cannot bring home some wins will basically be sent home at the first chance, because national governments have enough headaches without having to pay diplomatic penalties due to rogue Commissioners’ behaviour.

The real center of power, from an agenda perspective, it’s not the Commission (despite Commissioners really really wishing it was), it’s the European Council, i.e. national governments. They send out Commissioners to do their dirty work for them, so that they can turn around and push unpopular policies on their voters “because Europe says so”. This game was finally broken in the last decade, and from 2009 EuroParliament is powerful enough to stop these shenanigans – IF you help it doing its job by VOTING and supporting its action like you do with your national parliaments.


#20

same with the law in Germany, heavily lobbied by the press. all publishers gave Google a license at no cost after the realized that Google News was willing to only use naked links without a snippet