What will the Link Tax mean?
The link tax is a proposal to apply a new copyright to the snippets of text that automatically accompany news links.5 It will mean licensing fees and unaffordable contracts for sites that share news.
Imagine your favourite websites are stripped of links, or forced out of business because they can’t afford the hyperlink fees. The web as we know it will be taken away.
The Link Tax will also stifle innovation and ensure the dominance of entrenched players, to the detriment of smaller publishers and smaller news sites. Only major websites will be able to pay these fees and only major news sites will get linked to.
What will Content Filtering mean?
The European Commission is also demanding that companies create or buy expensive new technologies to monitor and filter the content we create.6
This means every website or service that allows users to upload content will have to build expensive robot programs to spy for material that rightsholders want to block. What’s worse is that these bots won’t be able to make exceptions for parody, public interest, fair use, and many other legal forms of expression.7
This means that content you create could be blocked for no reason: imagine your videos, your memes, website posts and art deleted as soon as you upload them because of a biased algorithm or program.
Internet companies would also have new incentives to block or delete any material you upload if they fear a legal risk.
What about Brexit?
If you’re in the UK, you may be wondering if this relates to you. Whilst the Brexit vote has left many questions, we must all continue to protect our right to link:
If these harmful proposals are left unchallenged, UK leaders will face pressure to pass similar laws at the national level after leaving the EU: due to new technology standards, heavy corporate lobbying, or as part of an EU-negotiated deal.
If these plans pass, it will seriously affect your ability to access and use European websites and platforms, no matter where you live in the world. Make no mistake about it, Internet companies won't create one Internet for Europe and one for the UK.
British MEPs, who are engaged during the pre-Brexit period will be useful allies, if we must also fight the Link Tax in the UK national arena.
How can we stop these terrible new proposals?
Despite opposition from over 120,000 Internet users and dozens of civil society groups, the European Commission charged ahead with its wrong-headed plan.
But now that it has reached the European Parliament, we have a real chance to stop it in its tracks. Elected MEPs are far more likely to listen to their constituents than unelected Commissioners.
Email your Members of the European Parliament using the tool above and tell them to reject the Link Tax and mandatory content filtering. (We’ve written a draft message to get you started, but you will have much more impact if you write it in your own words.)
Some MEPs have already spoken out. If your MEP replies favourably, let us know using the form here and we will add their name to the list of MEPs who are helping to save the link.
Julia Reda MEP (Greens/EFA, Germany)
Marietje Schaake MEP (ALDE, Netherlands)
Brando Benifei MEP (S&D, Italy)
Daniel Dalton MEP (ECR, United Kingdom)
- Lidia Geringer De Oedenberg (S&D, Poland)
- Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (ALDE, Germany)
- Dietmar Köster (S&D, Germany)
- Helga Trüpel (Greens/ EFA, Germany)
- Martina Michels (GUE/ NGL, Germany)
- Terry Reintke (Green/ EFA, Germany)
- Judith Sargentini (Greens / EFA, Netherlands)
- Jane Collins (EFD, UK)
- Mike Hookem (EFD, UK)
- Diane James (EFD, UK)
- Catherine Beader (ALDE, UK)
- Molly Scott Cato (Greens/EFA, UK)