Jaggy's Corner! - Sunday December 9th

Welcome peeps to another Jaggy's Corner! This week I want to talk about a serious issue that will affect an innumerable amount of people on the internet, and that is Article 13 and/or copyright law being passed in the EU.

**Before anything, I'm not a licenced legal professional, nor am I purporting to be one. I have taken law but my knowledge is limited to where I live. Even then, I only have knowledge of certain areas of law (which includes copyright). In no way am I looking to persuade people on the subject matter but to give some perspective on a complicated issue. I trust that our readers will make up their own minds regarding Article 13.

With that said, let's continue.

What the heck is Article 13 anyways?

It is a proposed piece of legislation that is in the process of being finalized which states that large websites will be liable if users upload copyrighted material. In other words, YouTube, FB, Imgur, etc... will no longer get free passes to content creation under DMCA/Fair use laws in the United States. These sites would all be forced to stop content from being uploaded if users don't have a licence to use copyrighted content. That includes everything from movie clips to music used in videos to screenshots.

While most people might think that only EU is affected, think about this: some of your favorite YouTubers like Pewdiepie, JackSepticeye, Philip DeFranco, and others have hundreds of thousands of fans all over the world. Losing their European viewership because of a law that is being forced upon large companies (many that are based in the United States) means that content creator revenue will drop significantly. Imagine, a large portion of your income disappearing because of the EU's proposed amendments which demand that companies follow their restrictions. (Do you recall earlier in the year where all websites had to update their privacy policy? That wasn't a coincidence. That was EU law that forced companies to panic and our inboxes filled ad naseum.)

Over time, platforms like YouTube tried to mitigate the damage by using a newer Content ID system. While the system is drastically flawed, they put it in place to protect their asses from other companies that would have grounds to take them to court. They placed the burden of proof on the content creator directly. If the creator felt they used copyrighted material and wanted to absolve themselves of an issue, they would counterclaim it, under the guidelines of fair use.

Unfortunately, EU law is far more strict than other parts of the world, and it aims to take down all forms of piracy forcibly. Either the world complies with the new laws or content will be blocked. While most people understand that copyright should be honored, the method in which it is being presented is too broad.

If you prefer an explanation in video format, Film Theory released an excellent video that goes into a lot of detail about it. Philip DeFranco also released a video about it back in September.

The Music Industry

Now, I get it. The music industry, like Taylor Swift and other celebrities, want to be paid for their work. This was a notion first raised by Metallica during the days of Napster. The music industry has since tried to find more fair ways to ensure that artists are paid for their work, rather than trying to shut down every platform that allows uploaded content.

Napster is gone. Grooveshark was closed suddenly. But that doesn't really stop the problem, it only slows things down. Basically, big name companies are missing the ball. Instead of taking down all forms of media that aren't licenced, they should find better alternatives to give money back to the artists.

Instead, the EU threatens to block YouTube and other community-driven content sites which have led to the discovery of artists like Justin Beiber, Sam Tsui, and Christina Grimmie (may she rest in peace). Article 11 and 13 have been reported to block content from being uploaded if there is copyrighted material.

Who does that really help in the end? At the end of the day, many people will be affected by this imposed law and creators are the ones that will likely take the fall.

How about another example of copyright and its complex nature?

Another Copyright Issue

A couple of days ago, I was sent a link to an article about rap artist '2 Milly' suing Fortnite because Epic Games used his signature dance as purchasable content. Now if this goes to court, the issues could be innumerable for other game companies. Assume that Epic is forced to pay 2 Milly because they stole his material and sold it. That would kick open a giant can of worms for the video games industry, but also for a whole host of other social media platforms.

On the other hand, if he loses this case, then video games are free to use choreography in their games and there isn't a ton of monetary loss.

And while we are on the topic of money, according to CBSnews, 2 Milly doesn't want any! For whatever reason, he is taking the issue to court because he wants... nothing? Maybe a pat on the back? I'm not sure that the courts would appreciate wasting their time if his lawyers haven't proposed a form of equitable compensation. This is what was said in the article:

"What would make it fair for you?" Duthiers asked 2 Milly.
"I don't even want to bash them for all the millions. Know what I am saying? It's not really like that. I just feel like I have to protect what's mine," he responded.
Something else to consider is the fact that everything has already been done before. Movies are being remade (sometimes to death). Music is being reused or remade. Fashion items make comebacks over the course of time. In other words, the issue of copyright is complex and vast and should be handled with care. I'm not sure if this current proposal is the right way of going about the issue. To me, this is a band-aid over a severed limb.

Article 11 & 13

The 2 Milly case just goes to show that when it comes to copyright law and the internet, the whole issue is far more complicated than expected, making it difficult to regulate. Article 11 and 13 are at the heart of the controversy online, and the fact that the European Union has already gone through the first couple of stages to make this new policy law shows that even they don't have a handle on copyright with respect to the internet.

For reference to the next section, the proposal that is being passed can be found here. The direct Articles that websites and YouTube videos have mentioned are further down on the page.

Anyways, Article 11 references the main copyright Directive for the European union. It is a little scary if this is applied to the internet:

Member States shall provide for the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit direct or indirect, temporary or permanent reproduction by any means and in any form, in whole or in part:

(a) for authors, of their works;
(b) for performers, of fixations of their performances;
(c) for phonogram producers, of their phonograms;
(d) for the producers of the first fixations of films, in respect of the original and copies of their films;
(e) for broadcasting organisations, of fixations of their broadcasts, whether those broadcasts are transmitted by wire or over the air, including by cable or satellite. [emphasis added]

See the issue with the strict Directive? If not, I bolded the part about exclusive rights because it means that copyright holders are the only ones to allow or prohibit use of their content. And the arguments that people make to YouTube about 'fair use' isn't going to be honored. Artists want compensation. It's only fair, right? But how do you compensate artists for 15 seconds of a video or a whole song or a sampled song?

The question is, how does the law of different countries regulate the internet fairly? Is a large scale take down really a solution? Think about it or read this fascinating article that could very much become a reality in the near future.

Final Thoughts

I am a person that believes in fairness. When it comes to the subject of law, I hope that countries have laws that benefit their people whether they are CEO's of a large company or a retail worker. Articles 11 and 13 pose some harsh realities for content creators on many different mediums and I don't know that this new proposal is much of a solution. Sure the big artists and companies will profit in the end, but at a huge cost to fans.

If you want to speak up about Article 11 and 13 please check out these two links:

I hope that the European Union will consider the huge impact they will have if content gets forcibly removed as a result of this proposal.

Until next time peeps.

Article by Susan N.


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