Technology, copyright, and censorship. Since the invention of the printing press, the three have been linked. Many of the earliest copyright laws in Europe have their origins in “early modern print and copyright licensing”, used in the 16th century by church and state to try and control what was being said with the revolutionary new movable-type technology.

And technology has always moved faster than copyright. The world’s first real copyright law was only enacted in England in 1710, hundreds of years after Johannes Gutenberg and his printing press. It wasn’t until the Berne Convention was adopted in 1887 that the first international agreement on copyright was reached. Over 130 years later, the Berne Convention is still one of the principle international agreements on copyright (the other being the 1952 Universal Copyright Convention). In the meantime, technology has been on an upwards march; the printing press has been joined by innovations such as radio, cinema, television, and (most recently) the internet.

Is it time to update Europe’s copyright laws? Parts of the EU’s current copyright regime dealing with digital media date back to the early 2000s, predating YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other online platforms we take for granted today. In order to bring European copyright in line with new digital realities, the European Commission has proposed a new Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. However, there has been much criticism of the European Parliament’s version of the proposed new law, including charges that it could lead to either a chilling effect on freedom of speech or even censorship (intentional or not) of critical voices.

Curious to know more about copyright in the European Union? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Michalis, who argues that copyright is an “essential element of motivating innovation… which is an essential element of improving human lives and progressing humanity!”

How important is copyright for motivating creators? And what would a fair copyright regime look like in practice? On Tuesday 20th November, Debating Europe hosted an event on copyright reform in Brussels with MEPs, YouTube creators, and representatives from the European Commission and industry. During the event, we sat down with YouTube creator Enrique A. Fonseca Porras, co-founder of the VisualPolitik channel, and asked him what he would say to Michalis.

To get another perspective, we put the same comment to Manuel Mateo Goyet, Member of Cabinet of Commissioner Mariya Gabriel (Commissioner for the Digital Economy). His portfolio includes a focus on copyright, and he has been working extensively on the proposed Directive. What would he say?

Next up, we asked another creator to respond: Guglielmo Scilla, founder of the Willwoosh YouTube channel. How important was copyright in motivating him?

Next up, we had a comment sent in from Ole, who said that opposition to the EU Copyright Directive is “promoted by Europe’s pirates and the large internet platforms that are categorically against regulation of the Internet.” Is that a fair criticism?

To get a response, we put Ole’s comment to Axel Voss, MEP and Rapporteur on the EU Copyright Directive for the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs. What would he say?

Ole is right because these copyright infringements are increasing massively, and the platforms are getting a kind of remuneration via advertising and clicks, and so that’s what we would like to change. So, that also rights-holders and authors and performers are able to [benefit] as well as platforms.

For a different perspective, we also put Ole’s comment to Julia Reda, a Pirate Party MEP from Germany, who has been leading on digital copyright for the Greens-European Free Alliance Group in the European Parliament. How would she respond?

Can we protect copyright and creativity at the same time? What would a fair copyright regime look like? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: (c) BigStock – vverve
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14 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Emre

    Very interesting read! Personally I think that the copyright issue has received a lot more spotlight in recent years. With the continious digitalization of our environment, copyright is becoming more and more of an active part of our lives. Content creators like on YouTube these days are heavily affected by this, and I am curious as to how this will all develop over time with regards to copyright regulations and such. I don’t think copyright and creativity can be protected at the same time, as those two are mutually exclusive I think. One may think of something he or she never thought of, but someone else might have done so already. In the end, I think that we should treat carefully and try to look at each individual case of copyright infringement.

  2. avatar
    Maxine

    If you don’t protect copyright, it’ll probably be the end of sustainable creativity anyway.

    • avatar
      Michael

      Really? The reverse can also be said.

    • avatar
      Maxine

      Michael who will pay the bills?

  3. avatar
    Eduard

    This new article of copyright infringement makes people, besides prohibiting videos and shutting down channels, lose their imagination. People will not stop copyrighting either way at the end of the day so I think it is a must to let them so imagination could evolve more rather than stagnate.

  4. avatar
    HatWhite

    If this article applies, many will lose their job, youtube now is like a job, not just to watch, here one wins their life, they put a lot of passion every day! #SaveYourInternet #MikeyHas # FackArticle13

  5. avatar
    Enache Mario

    I just want to save youtube vids.

    • avatar
      Jackson Moffat

      same bro rip pew but event though his youtube vids get copyrighted
      HE WILL NOT LOSE TO T-series

  6. avatar
    Michael

    I didn’t say that your assertion is wrong, merely that the reverse is also true. If you do not protect creativity it will be the end of sustainable copyrights.

  7. avatar
    Brian

    pissed off people don’t vote favourably

  8. avatar
    Michael

    With this law we are going to be like the Chinese, trapped behind a digital Great Wall. People will have to use VPN just to see the same content as the rest of the world, and disaffection towards Brussels will grow substantially as it will have the EU’s name all over it. It’s pathetic and infuriating.

    The bottom line is not about copyright or creativity, it is about *liability*. You cannot set the precedent of collectivising liability, making platforms liable for the activity of individual users. What kind of thoughtless nonsense is this? It is obscene, undemocratic and, frankly, utterly anachronistic and abusive.

    Imagine if we applied the same rule in any other context. If anyone uses a knife to commit a murder then the knife manufacturer is responsible for enabling it. If a book is smashed over someone’s head, the publisher is responsible for the assault. If a pin is used to pick a lock it is the fault of the corner shop for selling a pin to a thief. What kind of totalitarian garbage is THIS? 😱 This is the stupidest idea to come out of Brussels since the Germans suggested that the Greeks could end tax evasion by giving people tax exemptions for paying their taxes.

    I am telling you, the Brusselcrats must bin that article if they have any love for the European Union. The European Union is on thin ice as it is and with such ignorance and incompetence it is as if they are going out of their way to make people angrier and angrier.

    Perhaps leave any serious legislation on the Internet and digital media for a generation or two, until the old dinosaurs in power are replaced by people who actually use them and understand what they are and what they’re doing when they legislate them. Let’s be honest, does Juncker even know how to use a mouse?

  9. avatar
    claudiu

    This is a stopid,were is creativity in this article 13

  10. avatar
    Jackson Moffat

    we can protect creativity and copyright at the same time like someone could use an idea with no copyright but if its the exact same thing then it can be called copyright or make the 10 second thing for copyright longer

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