Paper salesDoing this online is a neighbouring right in the new EU Copyright Directive. Photo by Alper, license CC BY

A move that surprises absolutely no one: Google won’t pay French publishers for snippets. France is the first EU country to transcribe the new EU Copyright Directive into law. This directive contains a new neighbouring right that says if you link to something with a snippet of that link’s content (e.g. a news link, with the first paragraph of the news item), you need to seek permission to do so, and that permission may come with a charge. This in the run-up to the directive was dubbed the ‘link tax’, although that falsely suggests it concerns any type of hyperlinking.
Google, not wanting to pay publishers for the right to use snippets with their links, will stop using snippets with those links.

reading the newspaperPhoto by Nicolas Alejandro, license CC BY

Ironically the link at the top is to a publisher, Axel Springer, that lobbied intensively for the EU Copyright Directive to contain this neighbouring right. Axel Springer is also why we knew with certainty up front this part of the Copyright Directive would fail. Years ago (2013) Germany, after lobbying by the same Axel Springer publishing house, created this same neighbouring right in their copyright law. Google refused to buy a license and stopped using snippets. Axel Springer saw its traffic from search results drop by 40%, others by 80%. They soon caved and provided Google with a free of charge license, to recoup some of the traffic to their sites.

read newsPhoto by CiaoHo, license CC BY

This element of the law failed in Germany, it failed in Spain in 2015 as well. Axel Springer far from being discouraged however touted this as proof that Google needed to be regulated, and continued lobbying for the same provision to be included in the EU Copyright Directive. With success, despite everyone else explaining how it wouldn’t work there either. It really comes at no surprise therefore that now the Copyright Directive will come into force in French law, it has the exact same effect. Wait for French publishers to not exercise their new neighbouring rights in 3, 2, 1…

Week 32/52.2012Photo by The JH Photography, license CC BY

News publishers have problems, I agree. Extorting anyone linking to them is no way to save their business model though (dropping toxic adtech however might actually help). It will simply mean less effective links to them, resulting in less traffic, in turn resulting in even less advert revenue for them (a loss exceeding any revenue they might hope to get from link snippet licenses). This does not demonstrate the monopoly of Google (though I don’t deny its real dominance), it demonstrates that you can’t have cake and eat it (determining how others link to you and get paid for it, but keep all your traffic as is), and it doesn’t change that news as a format is toast.

BELGIUMPhoto by Willy Verhulst, license CC BY ND

This is very interesting reasoning. Especially because I end up in a lot of conversations on the flip side of this: government client saying they’d ‘like to use alternatives to big tech’ but ‘can’t’ because none are visible to them. Also my sense of public procurement procedures is that they are currently incapable of detecting such options and lifting them to the front.

Looking at this way of investing, also means public institutions will more easily stay out of conflicts with e.g. market regulations.

Read Have you heard about Silicon Valley’s unpaid research and development department? It’s called the EU. (ar.al)

Today, the EU acts like an unpaid research and development department for Silicon Valley. We fund startups, which, if they’re successful, get sold to companies in Silicon Valley. If they fail, the European taxpayer foots the bill.
….
The EC must stop funding startups and invest in stayups instead. Invest €5M in ten stayups in each area where we want ethical alternatives. Unlike a startup, when stayups are successful, they don’t exit. They can’t get bought by Google or Facebook. They remain sustainable European not-for-profits working to deliver technology as a social good.

At the end of March the European Commission (EC) has announced it is adopting the Creative Commons By Attribution license as its standard license.

The CC-BY license will be used for videos and photos, studies published in peer-reviewed journals, data and visualisations on the EU open data portal and documents published on EU websites.

Re-use of EC material has been possible since 2006 (and rephrased in 2011), but in practice it wasn’t always clear to potential re-users what was allowed and what wasn’t.
While re-use and attribution is part of the EC’s copyright notice, it is likely re-users are discouraged by the copyright claim above it, and missing the permissions underneath it:


Current default copyright notice on EC websites, to be exchanged for a CC-BY license

In contrast adding the Creative Commons By Attribution license sends a clear message about permissions that are granted up-front without the need for a re-user to seek consent: any re-use is permitted, including commercial re-use, provided the EC is attributed as its source, and provided re-use forms or alterations don’t suggest they are endorsed by or coming from the EC.


The clarity that a Creative Commons license provides

(full disclosure: I am a board member of Open Nederland, the Dutch Creative Commons chapter)

As of today it is final: the new EU copyright directive has been adopted (ht Julia Reda). I am pleased to see my government voted against, as it has in earlier stages, and as my MEPs did. Sadly it hasn’t been enough to cut Article 11 and 13, despite the mountain of evidence and protests against both articles. It is interesting and odd to see both Spain and Germany vote in favour, given the failure of their respective laws on which Article 11 is based, and the German government coalition parties stated position of being against content filters (i.e. Article 13).

Over the next two years it is important to track the legislative efforts in Member States implementing this Directive. Countries that voted against or abstained will try to find the most meaningless implementation of both Articles 11 and 13, and will be emphasising the useful bits in other parts of the Directive I suspect, while subjected to intense lobbying efforts both for and against. The resulting differences in interpretation across MS will be of interest. Also looking forward to following the court challenges that will undoubtedly result.

In the mean time, you as an internet-citizen have two more years to build and extend your path away from the silos where Article 11 and 13 will be an obstacle to you. Run your own stuff, decentralise and federate. Walkaway from the big platforms. But most of all, interact with creators and makers directly. Both when it comes to re-using or building on their creations, as when it comes to supporting them. Article 11 and 13 will not bring any creator any new revenue, dominant entertainment industry mediators are the ones set to profit from rent seeking. Vote with your feet and wallet.

Some links I thought worth reading the past few days