EU Parliament rejects controversial copyright law

July 5, 2018 by Alex Pigman
Music legend Paul McCartney was among those pushing to make online platforms legally liable for copyrighted material put on the web by users

The European Parliament rejected Thursday a highly controversial EU copyright law proposal that has pitted Beatles legend Paul McCartney against internet giants and the creators of Wikipedia.

Lawmakers are now expected to return in September to the plans, which are aimed at ensuring creators of creative content—whether music, movies or news—are paid fairly in a digital world.

The draft law was firmly resisted by major US tech giants as well as advocates of internet freedom, with some campaigners warning it could even spell the end of viral "memes" or jokes.

"Today's vote represents a victory for democracy," said Siada El Ramly, head of EDiMA, a lobby representing Google, Facebook and other US tech giants.

Members of European Parliament meeting in the eastern French city of Strasbourg voted 318 against the measure, 278 in favour, with 31 abstentions.

The vote would have given MEPs the mandate to start negotiations with member states for a finalised law which Austria, holder of the EU's six-month rotating presidency, would like finished by the end of the year.

MEPs from France, who had staunchly backed the reform, were furious after the vote.

US tech giants "who steal from artists and pay no taxes, have won a battle," said MEP Pervenche Beres.

McCartney plea

The two most disputed aspects of the reform are an effort to boost revenue for hard-up news publishers and a crackdown on non-copyrighted material on tech platforms such as Google-owned Youtube or Facebook.

Major publishers, including AFP, have pushed for the news media reform—known as article 11—seeing it as an urgently needed solution against a backdrop of free online news that has decimated earnings for traditional media companies.

But opponents have called it a "link tax" that will stifle discourse on the Internet.

Resistance has been especially heated to Article 13: the proposal to make online platforms legally liable for copyrighted material put on the web by users.

Music legend McCartney as well as major music labels and film studios had lobbied politicians urging them to back the changes.

But critics said the reform will lead to blanket censorship by platforms that have become an online hub for creativity, especially Youtube. It would also restrict the usage of memes and remixes by everyday internet surfers, they said.

Wikipedia went down in at least three countries on Wednesday in a protest at the upcoming European Parliament vote.

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Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jul 05, 2018
paid fairly in a digital world


You know what's a fair pay? When you make somehting, you get paid once - not for an unlimited number of times until years after your death. You make it, you get paid for it, then it's off your hands - no royalties or arbitrary restrictions on further use.

The whole copyright system is fundamentally unfair. You can ask, if you make a catchy song, does it really warrant half the world paying you a dollar? All that does is reward mediocricity, and its preventing people from judging whether the thing they're getting is worth the money because none of the "customers" see the full price, or even know they're being forced to pay.

Abolishing the copyright entirely would put the system straight, where artist and authors would get paid in advance or upon exchange of "goods" like it was for thousands of years before the modern copyrights were invented. All they ever did was enable publishers to have a monopoly to huge portfolios of content.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jul 05, 2018
The thing is that when an artist works for a company, the output is considered "work for hire", and the copyright is automatically with the company. Copyright is just their means to pay an artist once, or maybe a tiny portion of the royalties, and then use the results to milk the public for money forever - without adding any more value to the work.

They're just acting as gatekeepers to information which would otherwise be freely and at very little cost had by anyone, which is called "rent-seeking".

https://en.wikipe...-seeking
In public choice theory and in economics, rent-seeking involves seeking to increase one's share of existing wealth without creating new wealth. Rent-seeking results in reduced economic efficiency through poor allocation of resources, reduced actual wealth-creation, lost government revenue, increased income inequality


That's true also for when the author is leveraging copyright to get more money without doing more work
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jul 05, 2018
And before the inevitable complaint: no, copyrights are not patents, or trademarks. Those are different things that deal with different domains of intellectual property.

And, if copyrights worked like patents or trademarks, you'd have to pay to have them and they'd run out after some number of years.

Copyright is just bad because:

Rent-seeking is distinguished in theory from profit-seeking, in which entities seek to extract value by engaging in mutually beneficial transactions.[6] Profit-seeking in this sense is the creation of wealth, while rent-seeking is "profiteering" by using social institutions, such as the power of the state, to redistribute wealth among different groups without creating new wealth.[7] In a practical context, income obtained through rent-seeking may contribute to profits in the standard, accounting sense of the word.
434a
5 / 5 (1) Jul 05, 2018
As someone who has income from creative pursuits, namely photography, I can understand how it feels that someone can take one of my photos and use it in an advert to generate money whilst paying me nothing. Does it happen, sure, and it is expensive to do something about it in court. Is that fair? Probably not, but you realise it's a rising tide and you're going to struggle to fight it.

I can also see the balance that needs to be struck to maintain free discourse in an open society.

@Eikka, if you can find a way of valuing a piece of work upfront and then finding a way to get paid for it I'm all ears, and so will be many creative industries.
The question is simply how much value can I realise from this item.
If long term profitability, supported by copyright law, is financially of greater benefit than a single upfront payment then we both know which way this will go.

Personally, I don't think there is a single right answer, but I like to read what your thinking.
434a
not rated yet Jul 05, 2018
Just to be clear I actually agree with the majority of MEPs on this issue. It was poorly designed law that needed to be rethought.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jul 05, 2018
@Eikka, if you can find a way of valuing a piece of work upfront


Comparisons can always be made. There's a whole market of authors/artists who have their audiences that know what they prefer to have, and know how much they're willing to pay.

The problem of selling content through copyrights is that nobody can make that comparison, as the buyers are unaware of previous and future buyers so they cannot in principle make a rational choice, and that makes the price unreasonable. If such a choice can be made then value can be estimated.

Especially in terms of digital content, the value of the actual outcome is essentially zero (tends to zero) as an unlimited amount can be had at no additional cost. All the value reduces to the production of the -original- which means you're paying for the labor and resources, not for the copy. The value concentrates on the labor and resources used to make the first one.

That gives a clue on how to make the sale:
ZoeBell
Jul 05, 2018
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jul 05, 2018
It is entirely possible for an author to hold a kind of public auction where they agree to render their service in exchange for a fixed sum of money or other value, from one or many buyers.

They simply say "If you collect up $10,000 however you see fit, I will make this for you."

It is also possible in the same way to sell art or content that has already been made, but not yet published simply by witholding it until the sale is complete. This in fact is already being done - it's called crowdfunding.

To get into the business, you simply need to put out a proof of work. After that, since the copies are freely spread, the work serves as its own advertisement and the prices settle down to whomever will make an equally competent thing (quality/quantity) at the lowest marginal cost.

Famous artists will of course still fetch a higher price simply because nobody else can be "the master", so you're also selling exclusivity and prestige, so Paul McCartney don't need to worry.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jul 05, 2018
For example in our country we are paying copyright fee even from selling FREE data media


In every country, you're paying copyright fees even if you never actually hear/see the content you're paying for.

How? Advertisers buy rights to use popular songs and imagery in their ads, and then push the cost of obtaining the licenses onto the consumers of their products. Every time you buy bread from the local supermarket which advertises on television, you're paying some copyrights holder money.

Likewise, the television station buys rights to show movies and shows, so people would watch the commercials in between. You're paying the copyright fees for the programmes even if you never turn on the TV, because that cost is pushed on to the companies that advertise on the station, which gets pushed onto the prices of goods and services you buy.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jul 05, 2018
Then there's also other indirect costs out of copyright. A radio station for example has to go through extra effort (cost) to figure out who they have to pay, how much, or whether they're even allowed to play a certain song - and of course they pay extra for the exclusive right to play it, so people would listen to them instead of their competitor, which means they can ask for higher ad prices... and so-on.

This would be completely unnecessary if copyright didn't exist. It's added cost, but no added value.

Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jul 05, 2018
I can understand how it feels that someone can take one of my photos and use it in an advert to generate money whilst paying me nothing


I can't understand it.

Of course it makes sense in terms of "I could be making money out of this!", but is this really justifiable? You took the photo, you sold the photo, and what anyone does with it afterwards isn't really your business - what hand did you have in any additional value derived of it?

A farmer doesn't go on demanding money out of the cow raised on the feed he sold. He already had his fair share, the cow belongs to someone else.

More money can be raised through enforcing copyrights, but claiming that this is fair gain is begging the question. The situation only seems unfair if you already consider yourself entitled to the profit.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jul 05, 2018
If long term profitability, supported by copyright law, is financially of greater benefit than a single upfront payment then we both know which way this will go.


Since copyright is legal fiction - no such natural right actually exists - it can be undone the same way it was created. The question is simply which has more political power - the copyright lobbyists or the public.

Exposing copyright for the scam it is, is the first step.
Thorium Boy
1 / 5 (1) Jul 05, 2018
The EU is ridiculous. 99 year copyrights on books, music, etc. Meanwhile, a company spends $2 billion making a new drug, they get what, 3-7 years??!
ZoeBell
Jul 05, 2018
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jul 06, 2018
The EU is ridiculous. 99 year copyrights on books, music, etc. Meanwhile, a company spends $2 billion making a new drug, they get what, 3-7 years??!


Largely thanks to Disney, which lobbies such crazy extensions in the US, which then lobbies the same extensions globally as part of the trade agreements. Recently the TTIP/TPP rules were about to allow companies to sue governments for making laws that would lose them profits, which would have meant Hollywood could sue the EU for instituting a copyright law not in their favor.

That would have meant the corporations have additional political powers to contest and overthrow public decisions supported by the voters, or at least drag the case through courts for years to delay the inevitable.
Ojorf
1.7 / 5 (6) Jul 06, 2018
It is entirely possible for an author to hold a kind of public auction where they agree to render their service in exchange for a fixed sum of money or other value, from one or many buyers.


I don't see how this could ever work.

You cannot put a value on any work of art or fiction before it's exposure to the public. You just cannot predict what will become popular.
You have plenty of one-hit wonders as well as duds by respected artists, it's unpredictable.
This is doubly true for a new artist/writer.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jul 06, 2018
I don't see how this could ever work.


Strangely enough, it already does. Go to Patreon and see people do it.


You cannot put a value on any work of art or fiction before it's exposure to the public.

You cannot put a value on any work of art. Period.

What you're actually paying for and valuing is the labor and resources to produce said art.

You just cannot predict what will become popular.


Of course you don't need to. If people like what you do, they'll pay you to do more.

The point is not about making bank over one-hit-wonders - that's exactly what's wrong with the present system. It rewards mediocricity and minimum effort, making it harder for the actually competent artists and authors to make money because they're being swamped by generic "hitmakers" picked off the street and "produced" into "artists" by publishers and labels.

I mean, half the pop artists out there don't even write their own music or lyrics
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jul 06, 2018
Though if you're only going to do one thing in your life and sell it, you could always give out half of the book, or the first 30 seconds of a song, etc.

Give a sample. It's not that difficult. In the 90's people played "Shareware" computer games, where the first level was free and the rest could be had by mail order - otherwise it was perfectly free to copy the game to whoever you like.

The thing is that nobody knows you yet, and naturally they don't trust you, so they probably don't want to pay you very much in case you're trying to pull a fast one and write the rest of the book full of "neener neener".

Eikka
not rated yet Jul 06, 2018
Regarding Patreon, it's actually an interesting social experiment in its own right.

It's a platform that allows at least two styles of commerce: you can auction your work one-off, such as collect funds for a video production, which then gets given to the "patrons", or you can hold a sort of gallery where you pay monthly fees for continuing support - a paywall of sorts. Both styles can be open or closed, such that only the patrons have access to the content, or everybody has, or any mix of the two.

The people who make the least money out of Patreon tend to be those who try to erect paywalls and hold closed subscription based galleries, because they see the least publicity, they have less patrons, and their customers are forced to pick and choose which subscriptions they spend their money on - so all the money goes to and stays with the most popular artists and the less popular artists see little.

They try to apply the logic of copyright and get a tragedy of the commons.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jul 06, 2018
Besides, at least with music, the people make most of their money out of touring and performing - the record labels and studios pay them pennies per album anyhow because you have to sign off your copyrights in order to get published by them. Most of the artists never see any of the money unless they're already rich enough to publish under their own private labels.

That's part of the reason why copyrights exist - in the very beginning in England only the Stationer's Company could print, and when their monopoly was ended they started arguing for copyright in the full knowledge that authors would have to sell them their copyrights or simply not get published at all.

So you can still make money out of your one hit - just go around singing the same old song until people get bored of it. Business as usual.

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