A crucial vote in the European Parliament this week will determine writers’ (and other creators’) futures and could significantly impact on their rights.
On Wednesday 12 September 2018 MEPs will vote on draft legislation which aims to modernise copyright for the digital age (the last EU legislation, in 2001, came into force three years before the launch of Facebook, four years before the birth of YouTube and five years before Twitter).
What is the Copyright Directive?
The proposed new legislation, known as the Copyright Directive, aims to ensure that individual creators (such as writers, musicians and photographers), publishers and performers, benefit from the online world in the 21st century.
It includes a system to increase the responsibility of internet platforms such as YouTube and Facebook for the creative content uploaded on their platforms. This is designed to close the huge gap between the profits earned by some user-upload platforms that pay little or nothing for the content, and the incomes earned by those who create the content in the first place.
Enter the internet giants
You may already have heard about the draft Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (the precursor to the proposed law) – but for all the wrong reasons. There has been significant and coordinated opposition across the EU against Articles 11 and 13, which have been characterised by misconception and misinformation, including claims that the directive will end the sharing of hyperlinks and introduce censorship.
MEPs have been subject to intense, mass lobbying by activists backed by internet giants who want to preserve their commercial advantage at the expense of creators. In fact, in July, MEPs voted narrowly against sending the draft text forward to the next stage and opted instead to debate it further and vote again on 12 September.
Which is why this next vote is so crucial. The chance to modernise copyright laws is now or never (or certainly for many years into the future).
What you can do
The most important thing you can do is write to your MEP/s as soon as possible and before 12 September 2018. Here is a draft letter.
- If you are able to personalise your letter this will be more effective, given the intense pressure MEPs have been under by those with a commercial interest. It is easy to find your MEP/s name on this website simply by putting your postcode in the search field. You can also email your MEP/s directly via the same website (and if there is more than one MEP there is a facility on the website to email them all together).
- Help spread the word on your social media networks and encourage other creators to write to their MEPs too (the British Copyright Council have provided some suggested Tweets).
- Drop us a line to let us know you have written to your MEP/s and if possible send us a copy of the letter. We will be continuing our support of the Copyright Directive and we can keep you up-to-date with future developments (email firstname.lastname@example.org – we will only use your data to keep you informed about the Copyright Directive).
- Find out more. The British Copyright Council has provided the following useful briefings: