Monday, March 18, 2019

Note to MEPs on proposed copyright directive article 13

At the prompting of the Open Rights Group I have written to my MEPs asking them to vote against the proposed copyright directive coming before the European parliament next week.
UK Members of European Parliament (MEPs), for a short time longer, have the power to stand against digital censorship by opposing Article 13 of the proposed EU Copyright Directive. This provision of the directive would introduce automated systems to filter what can be seen and said online. In an age as dependent on information flows as ours is, information laws can have crucial consequences for markets and politics. Actions taken to protect copyright can reshape politics by giving both the responsibility and power to control information flows to a small number of key economic actors. Article 13 of the proposed copyright directive would completely change the politics of who controls information, and hence who controls the public narrative.

The subtlest argument in favour of the directive is that all creators should be remunerated for their work and any use of that work online. This is a commendable sentiment and an easier argument to make than asking for an additional slice of monopoly rent for copyright industries. However, the copyright directive itself says nothing directly about remunerating creators. Mostly it refers to “rightsholders”. Ironically, with the stated intention of wrestling control from the giant US technology behemoths and improving protections for creators and the creative industries, it will concentrate the power of algorithmic, automated censorship in the hands of those very same companies.

What is perhaps more informative is that many, many publishers, journalists, libraries, scientific & research institutions, universities, civil society human rights & media freedom groups, small independent publishers, consumers, tech cos and even the UN Special Rapporteuron Freedom of Opinion and Expression are strongly opposed to it.

I highly recommend the empirical research of the CREATe copyright consortium if you are looking for a more detailed and informed perspective on the copyright directive as a whole, available at

The latest incarnation of Article 13 of the Copyright in the digital single market directive, developed through the trialogue (sic) process, is a really bad idea and I would request, as my MEPs, that you vote against it when it comes before the European parliament next week.


Ray Corrigan

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