Strasbourg’s latest copyright laws could change the face of the internet by 2021, but what do articles 11 and 13 have in store for the cryptocurrency space moving forward?
The two new copyright laws originated from the UK, where activists rebelled against the copyright status quo claiming that current freedoms were damaging not only the music industry, for years now a hot topic, particularly amongst performers themselves, but also other areas where artists’ work was largely up grabs, such as in publishing and media in general.
What do they mean?
The fight against internet giants such as Google and YouTube’s snatch and grab policy on other’s work, not to mention a few others, principally social media giants Facebook and Twitter, created the move towards tighter controls of media material. MEP’s took their stance and in September of 2018, the European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market was born.
This is one concern for cryptocurrency aggregator services although the new article is not yet ratified as law. Dubbed rather inaccurately as the “link tax,” due to many perceiving that anyone using sections of an originators work will be paying for it, this has been adjusted since the original MEP’s vote on the new copyright directives. Hyperlinks will not be penalized under the current rules and nor will websites pay fees for using words from parts of sentences from other websites.
Article 13 would force sites and online platforms to use automatic tracking technology to detect when users uploaded content to make sure they weren’t sharing copyrighted material, taking the responsibility from user to site/platform owner for adhering to copyright law, and adding cost in the process.
The big concern here for many is memes- virally-transmitted photographs that are embellished with text that make fun of a cultural symbol or social idea. They are everywhere, in fact, it is hard to envisage social media without them. The aims of article 13, were made in good faith due to its aim which was to encourage companies to take more control of the content on their sites-certainly an issue that both Facebook and Twitter struggle with on a daily basis.
But will it kill freedom of expression? Almost certainly, that is if the law actually operated in this way. It does not. Article 13 clarifies that content shared “for purposes of quotation, criticism, review, caricature, parody, and pastiche,” including GIFS, will be excluded from the article.
The problem here is clear. Companies running censorship resistant blockchain networks could hit a wall when it comes to compliance once the new regulations are ratified and enforced in 2021. The decentralization of crypto networks is key to the industry and many in the space will be waiting to see just how resistant blockchains’ censor content is to article 13.
An indication of the problems ahead might be just how blockchain companies have dealt with the GDPR as it stood before the new amendments in September 2018. Under last year’s new legislation, consumers were now able to request that personal data held by a company be deleted or erased; an issue which drove some blockchain companies out of business.
Public blockchains which support cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether are open to all comers, and more significantly information stored cannot be altered or erased due to its decentralized nature. This could become a turning point of conflict as the new articles become law in 2021. Legislators could now examine what has become known as ‘privacy poisoning’ with article 13 behind them. ‘Poisoning’ is jargon for the act of loading private data, such as names, addresses, and credit card numbers, or any illegal material on to an otherwise quite healthy blockchain, thereby making the chain inoperable.
This could become an issue which hits article 13 head on and requires some serious tweaking from within the cryptocurrency space moving forward.
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