19 February 2019Copyright

European Commission deletes copyright comment after criticism

The European Commission has been forced to delete a blog post about its copyright legislation and issue an apology to readers.

On Thursday, February 14, the Commission published a piece on publishing platform Medium, headlined “How the mob was told to save the dragon and slay the knight”.

Just one day earlier, the Commission had  reached a final agreement with the European Parliament and the European Council on the text of the proposed new copyright directive.

But numerous associations, including tech industry groups which have long opposed the directive, continue to have concerns.

In a  statement, the Computers and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), whose members include Google, Facebook, Amazon and e-Bay, said the deal was  “a lost opportunity to achieve a balanced and future-proof EU reform”.

Articles 11 and 13 of the directive have generated significant controversy among both industry and internet freedom groups.

Critics of article 13 have claimed that internet platforms would be required to implement content filters to detect infringing content.

But in its blog post, the Commission said: “It appears as if the largest search and video platforms in the world are afraid of regulation — despite having overwhelming dominance on the internet.

“There is ample evidence from respected sources… that ‘Big Technology’ has even ‘created’ grassroots campaigns against the Copyright Directive in order to make it look and sound as if the EU is acting against the ‘will of the people’”.

In November last year, YouTube’s CEO  expressed concern about the European Parliament’s “unrealistic” approach to modernising copyright rules in the EU.

Susan Wojcicki warned of the potential unintended consequences of article 13, claiming that EU-based consumers could be “cut off” from certain videos as YouTube may block content if it’s unclear who all the relevant rights owners are, in order to avoid liability under article 13.

The European Commission’s blog post was met with criticism across social media.

Julia Reda, member of the parliament representing the Pirate Party in Germany,  tweeted: “According to the @EU_Commission anyone opposing this law, that academics, human rights defenders at the UN like @davidakaye and even the inventor of the WWW @timberners_lee warn against, is a mob. They’re insulting the greatest supporters of the EU.”

Now, the  website reads: “This article published by the Commission services was intended to reply to concerns, but also to misinterpretations that often surround the copyright directive proposal.”

The Commission added that it acknowledges that the language and title were not appropriate and apologised “for the fact that it has been seen as offending”.

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More on this story

14 February 2019   News of a final agreement on the proposed European Copyright Directive has prompted concern from long-term opponents of the law.
6 February 2019   A leaked proposal for negotiations on the European copyright directive has indicated some support for a “softer liability regime” for smaller companies.
5 March 2019   Google’s senior vice president of global affairs has weighed in on the European Union’s copyright directive, describing it as “one step forward, two steps back” for Europe’s creative economy.