We’re Against Bots, Filtering, and the EU’s New Copyright Directive.

The European Union is considering a dangerous new amendment to its Copyright Directive that will restrict speech and expression and potentially change the way many in Europe, and worldwide, experience the internet.

Article 13 of the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market would effectively require Internet platforms – of all sizes – to proactively filter any content posted by their users, with the goal of stamping out materials that allegedly infringe on copyrights…before they are even posted.

The Directive would also require platforms to respond to almost any copyright infringement notice submitted by a rights holder, without adequate standards for completeness or effective recourse in the event of mistakes or abuse.

We’re against the proposed change to Article 13 because we have seen, first-hand, the dangers of relying on automated tools to police nuanced speech and copyright issues. Bots or algorithms simply cannot determine whether a blog post, photo in a news article, or video posted to a website is copyright infringement or legitimate use. This is especially true on a platform like wordpress.com, where copyrighted materials are legitimately posted in the context of news articles, commentary, criticism, remixing, memes — thousands of times per day.

We’ve also seen how copyright enforcement, without adequate procedures and safeguards to protect free expression, skews the system in favor of large, well-funded players, and against those who need protection the most: individual website owners, bloggers, and small publishers who don’t have the resources or legal wherewithal to defend their legitimate speech.

Based on our experience, the changes to Article 13, while well-intentioned will almost certainly lead to a flood of unintended, but very real, censorship and chilling of legitimate, important, online speech.

There’s a vote coming up on this proposal, later this month, and fortunately there’s still time to stop it. If you’d like to contact a Member of the EU Parliament and voice your concerns, you can do that here.

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