Free Speech

Tell Brazil's Congress: Drop the Flawed Link Tax Rule

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A remuneration obligation for the use of journalistic content online is poised to become law in Brazil with a problematic and underspecified rule in the Fake News Bill (PL 2630). Join the call of Coalizão Direitos na Rede and EFF urging lawmakers to drop this bad provision. The new draft still leaves the most crucial questions unanswered, punting them to subsequent regulation and courts' interpretation. The remuneration rule also insists on copyright as the main avenue to get a fair deal for publishers. It relies on a dangerous understanding of copyright, in which quoting and discussing news would require payment. This impacts freedom of expression and can result in a dangerous reduction of information available online.

Tell members of Brazil's Congress that this rule is in no way ready to become law and should not pass.

(Your tweet will be in Portuguese. In English, it reads "The remuneration rule for journalistic content in the #FakeNewsBill is dangerous and will increase Big Tech and Big Media powers. Drop the rule from the bill!")

As it is, the remuneration obligation virtually writes a blank check to a future regulator. The rule doesn't specify what constitutes a 'use' that triggers the remuneration obligation, how the payment should be calculated, or how it will be distributed. Although the new draft says that no remuneration is owed when a user shares a URL, it is not clear whether this exemption applies when the shared URL creates an automated preview of a news article. Worse: if a user quotes a news content in a social media post without sharing the link or forgets to name the author, would that trigger a payment? Would internet platforms be obliged to monitor all user-posted quotations to make sure they pay for (or delete) incorrectly formatted quotes?

We have seen elsewhere how similar obligations actually favored Big Tech and Big Media over independent and non-dominant publishers. Rather than giving a cultural veto to publishers based on copyright, lawmakers and regulators should address adtech, and promote competition and transparency. Tech companies' abuses towards publishers primarily relate to unfair practices in the ad market that should be properly tackled, with thorough, not rushed, responses. The remuneration rule in the Fake News Bill is not such a response. It will have bad consequences for media monopolization, free expression, and the free press. Tell the MPs to reject this rule!!

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