The EU copyright directive may likely destroy its main SUPPORTERS


Namely, publishers.

Quoting from Julia Reda’s explanation of the Copyright Directive (emphasis mine):

  • when you paste a web address into services like Facebook, Twitter or Reddit, they add a thumbnail-sized image and half a sentence from the article’s contents. They don’t do this to steal that content, but to advertise it: It makes the link more likely to be clicked.” (JR)

In theory, yes. In practice, if more than a handful of people did click to read WHOLE articles before sharing or commenting them, fake news would be much less of a problem than they actualy are.

This said, the same page explains that (emphasis mine):

“This law means that platforms will need to stop us from sharing links (with snippets) that they have not negotiated a license for. That will effectively limit our ability to legitimately and for our own private and non-commercial purposes talk about the news of the day with our friends.”

“publishers hope [that Article 11 of the Copyright Directive] will function like a tax: Publishers don’t want this licensing obligation to result in fewer snippets, just in additional payment for their use. To that end, the text says in Recital 32: “The listing in a search engine should not be considered as fair and proportionate remuneration””

Reality check

The paragraphs above explain why publishers, who obiectively are in dire straits since the advent of the World Wide Web, lobby for the Copyright Directive.

OK. This, instead, is what I believe will actually happen to publishers, if that directive is approved.

Since the “tax” is only about “links with snippets“:

  1. Facebook will just disable the snippets, to not have to pay the “tax”, and/or
  2. Facebook will pay the tax, but tweak its algorithms to show less links from publishers anyway, with or without snippets. As they already do, just because they can (also see point 4)
  3. If asked, Facebook will benevolently explain that “it’s all to fight fake news as you asked, really” and issue public apologies with the same practical effects of all other Facebook apologies since it was born
  4. Because Facebook is looking at its next billion users, and possibly PRODUCING news for them. The tantrums of mostly western, already struggling publishers have as much chances to succeed as those of taxi drivers yelling at an Uber whose real goal is to replace independent human drivers altogether.
  5. Ditto for Google. If the directive is approved, they will just repeat what they did in Spain 4 years ago, on a bigger scale. Just because, like Facebook, they can
  6. Only the biggest, very FEW publishing conglomerates worldwide will remain. All other publishers will starve, going bankrupt well before Google and Facebook even notice some 0.00% decrease in their profits. But we will all be happy, because we’ll have a Copyright Directive that defends “Freedom of the Press”

So yeah. Go ahead publishers. With any luck, if the directive is approved, it may produce GOOD results for everybody but YOU.

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