Whenever governmental agencies try to impose regulations on the internet, I get a special feeling in my chest. That feeling, specifically, is bile trying to escape my cardiac sphincter in a torrent of excruciating heartburn. First we had SOPA, which was so bad that the internet literally turned itself off in protest. Now we have CISA, which just passed the US Senate, and allows companies to spy on you and hand your data to the NSA. Coming soon, our neighbors across the pond have advanced a proposal that would more-or-less ban hyperlinks.
Here’s the basic idea: Various media entities have always fantasized about what it would be like if someone had to pay them every time their copyrighted material was linked to. Imagine if you were a newspaper and all of a sudden Google had to pay you every time they linked to an article of yours! Oh, the large piles of money that would result. The fact that this was already tried in Spain and resulted in nothing except Google literally leaving the country is apparently lost on these chaps.
Thus, the most recent proposal: A leaked communication suggests that the EU Digital Commissioner Günther Oetinger and the president of the EU Parliament, Martin Shulz, are working together to allow media interests to fine internet publishers if they link to copyrighted material. This sounds innocuous, but let’s put this in context. In the course of this article, I’ve already linked to four different external sources. I don’t know if they’re copyrighted, and I’d have to hire a lawyer to be sure.1 If this proposal passes, I could potentially be sued by four different companies for writing a single piece. Multiply this liability over the entire concept of blogging, and what you have is the actual death of the Internet.
This proposal isn’t law yet. It isn’t even the nucleus of a law. It exists only as a draft communication and only in the minds of some seriously myopic legislators. A sufficiently massive public outcry would possibly strangle this proposal in the crib. So: if you are reading this in the EU, or if you know anyone who lives there, please have them find the nearest lawmaker and then shout at them as loud as they possibly can.
[Post image via Shutterstock]
Editor’s note: we definitely don’t pay well enough for you to hire attorneys. ↩