Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Will Europe's radical Copyright "Directive" eventually affect speakers in the US, too?

I thought I would share ThioJoe’s video “Europe Just Ruined the Internet”, that is, politicians who have no idea how it really works.

The Verge (Vox) offers some analysis by Casey Newton, as it predicts the Web will be trisected into Europe, authoritarian countries (like China) and the western hemisphere. This requires each country's mapping the directive into its own laws, one sovereign state at a time.  Hopefully it will take a few years. 
Thojoe pretty much predicts the same thing toward the end of his video.   Especially galling is the idea that politicians think they are doing individual users a favor by transferring liability to platforms, which means on the face of it that platforms can no longer risk letting "ordinary paeans" speak for themselves. (Maybe the politicians really do want to keep the right-wing separatists who would break up the EU offline.) 
One observation strikes me:  most platforms are expected to make their best efforts to prevent copyrighted material from being uploaded through their services.  Theoretically this applies to text as well as music, images and video.
“Best efforts” might include (rather than impossible filters) prescreening who is allowed to post at all.  That could start in the countries most affected (France could be one of the worst, and the UK or “Whoops, England” might not even escape).  In the worst case, it would be only established organizations or companies. Or individuals might have to be screened – maybe with some kind of social credit system, which would invite political bias (especially from the Left). Or they might have to show that their web sites support themselves – no more free content.  Companies could be set up to offer paywall subscription bundles, and the bundles could screen and indemnify individuals who wanted to publish. But then consumers would have to know to look for them, so you'd have to set up free trials to be found, or some way for newbies to announce themselves. We're back into a loop that Axel Voss wants, that most ordinary people don't speak to the whole world anymore, unless you can figure out some real entry points. 

The problem then becomes, if this becomes widespread in Europe, platforms have every incentive to apply the same system in the US and Canada, etc.   Sites with poor performance would simply be shut down because of the unknown risk they create.

This also has political consequences (in the US for example),  which the Left wants, to curtail individual speech (which tends to be meritocratic and conservative – although the claims that this leads to white extremism are simply false) because it incorrectly thinks that will force more solidarity and give non-profits more control over what is said.  We’re already seeing some evidence of this, as Facebook boldly inserts requests in user’s timelines to run fundraisers for non-profits (which would destroy the integrity of their own speech).

And we don’t know how normal webhosting platforms (the old Web 1.0 stuff) where people pay to be hosted, would be affected.  Maybe their stuff would be blocked from the EU.  (Curiously, all my sites are available in China despite their political subversiveness and libertarian, anti-communist and anti-identarian content.  Blogger is not available, but I seem to get traffic on Blogger from China anyway.

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