Belgium: Help Save the Internet from the Copyright Directive

On January 18, the EU’s member state governments will decide whether to move forward the Copyright in the Single Digital Market Directive—a set of regulations that would likely crush many small European tech startups, create an even weaker bargaining position for working European artists, and expose half a billion Europeans to mass, unaccountable algorithmic censorship. But you can help stop it.

Please write to the ministers responsible for Belgium's position, and urge them to vote against Article 13 and Article 11.

Remember: supporters of the Directive claim that anyone who opposes it are "bots" -- please customize your letter with who you are, and why you care about Article 13 and 11.

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To: kris.peeters@peeters.fed.be, jan.hoogmartens@diplobel.fed.be, COREPER1.Belgoeurop@diplobel.fed.be Subject: Veuillez s’il vous plaît demander à nos négociateurs de rejeter les articles 11 et 13 de la Directive sur le droit d’auteur dans le marché unique numérique. À : Kris Peeters, Minister of Employment, Economy and Consumer Affairs Jan Hoogmartens, Deputy Permanent Representative to the European Union La présidence européenne a demandé un mandat de négociation pour les représentants de notre pays aux trilogues sur la nouvelle Directive sur le droit d’auteur dans le marché unique numérique. Pour le bien de notre pays, de ses citoyens et des utilisateurs d’Internet dans le monde entier qui seront affectés par ce règlement, je vous exhorte à prendre ce qui suit en considération. Les articles 11 et 13 n’ont pas leur place dans cette directive. Ils menacent gravement la liberté d’expression en restreignant la manière dont les nouvelles peuvent faire l’objet de discussions et de débats, et en rendant toute communication publique sujette à l’approbation d’algorithmes propulsés par l’intelligence artificielle (IA) qui n’ont de comptes à rendre à personne. Mais ce n’est pas tout. Ils cèdent aussi le contrôle de l’Internet européen aux grandes entreprises états-uniennes en technologie, car elles seules possèdent les centaines de millions d’euros nécessaires pour se conformer à ce règlement. Internet est intimement et inextricablement lié à toutes les activités de nos vies quotidiennes, de l’éducation aux emplois, et de la vie familiale aux soins de santé. Si Internet est réglementé d’après les intérêts particuliers d’une poignée de géants de l’industrie du divertissement, tout cela est mis en péril. Veuillez s’il vous plaît dire à nos négociateurs que notre pays n’acceptera pas les articles 11 et 13 dans la directive finale.

Negotiators and representatives of Europe’s national governments have returned from months of closed door meetings without removing, or even improving, the notorious “link tax” and “censorship machine” rules, Articles 11 and 13, and we’ve now arrived at the moment of truth—if the Directive receives enough votes on the 18th, it may be impossible to stop. But if people in member states speak out right now, they can protect the global Internet by convincing their Council representatives to vote no.

The Directive has the same problems it’s had from the start:

Article 11 would create a “link tax” by making platforms pay for linking to news sites where those links include more than a word or two from the story or its headline, essentially allowing newspapers to decide who can link to them—and at costs they decide. Small, independent press outlets could be blocked altogether from linking to established news sources -- even for the purposes of criticism and commentary — or they could be charged much more than their counterparts in the mainstream. While the giant newspapers will be able to afford to link to one another after Article 11 is law, smaller news entities will have to find cash they don’t have to pay for these licenses, and nothing in Article 11 requires newspapers to sell licenses to them at any price, let alone at a fair price.

Article 13 may be even worse. It would require online platforms to use algorithmic filters to unilaterally determine whether content anyone uploads, from social media posts to videos, infringes copyright, and would penalise companies that allow the content to stand. There would be no penalty for overblocking and censoring users—and as we’ve seen from previous attempts at online filtering, this would inevitably leading to censorship of massive proportions.

But it’s not too late: the European Council — made up of representatives from EU member states like Belgium — will vote on the Directive on January 18. Their decision will shape the future of the Internet, possibly for generations to come. Tell your government to strike a blow for fairness and against market concentration and censorship. Don’t let the EU sell Big Tech a very cheap ticket to a guarantee of continued Internet dominance.

Remember: supporters of the Directive claim that anyone who opposes it are "bots" -- please customize your letter with who you are, and why you care about Article 13 and 11.