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Something Worse than Hitler is Now Threatening to Conquer Europe

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By Nelson Schneider - 09/16/18 at 02:27 PM CT

*sigh* Meh. Videogame news has been pretty dead lately. Nothing to get excited about or enraged by.

On the other hand, those crazy kids in European government are trying to destroy the online world as we know it. Articles 11 and 13 have successfully passed the first of a handful of hurdles required to become continent-wide law.

Article 11 is intended to limit how much material content aggregators can display without forcing the reader to visit the actual originating site. Apparently the attention span of the average Internet user has degraded to the point where they can’t even be bothered to click on the links they find in Google, but merely read Google’s summary before walking away. Publishers are naturally upset about this because users who don’t click-through don’t get to view their tasty, tasty ads or bump into their friendly, friendly paywalls.

Article 13 is intended to hold platform owners responsible for user-generated content. So when Joe Schmoe uses his Google Drive to disseminate German Indie Art Films without the copyright holders’ permission, the copyright holder can simply send their lawyers to yell at Google instead of trying to track-down Joe Schmoe behind his 12 VPNs and spoofed MAC address.

While both of these provisions might seem reasonable from a certain viewpoint, they’re both incredibly unhealthy for the Internet in general. The World Wide Web was at its best when it was something of a Wild Wild West, without enormous corporate interests throwing their weight around all the time. Maybe I’m overly nostalgic for the dial-up era when websites (and even newsgroups) were all free and people shared digital information out of passion and mutual interests rather than seeing if they could somehow bilk someone out of enough money to turn a profit.

Articles 11 and 13 have nothing to do with protecting the consumers and everyday users of the Internet, and everything to do with propping up struggling business models. To me, the attempted implementation of these draconian regulations (this coming from someone who usually has no problem forcing businesses to comply with regulations) is merely the last gasp of the old copyright regime. The original copyright system has been so tortured and warped over the centuries of its existence that it no longer resembles its original concept. In a world where digital media and online transmission of data makes everything move faster and faster, copyright lovers have extended the system to last longer and longer.

It’s a ridiculously backward way of thinking which has been debunked as far back as the 1960 publishing of Ted Levitt’s “Marketing Myopia.” In creating a new set of legal mandates to prop-up their failing publishing-and-copyright-dependent industries, Europe will transform the Internet into something that is largely unusable by everyday humans. Only those with enormous swarms of lawyers or with nothing more to contribute than a casual “LOL” will remain unscathed, while smaller Internet startups and anything which relies on user-generated content will be crushed beneath the overweening burden of the copyright police-state. The whole thing amounts to a broad-brush application of censorship, yet is even more insidious that most traditional forms of censorship, as it doesn’t strive to suppress disruptive ideas, but only to protect profits. Truly, greed for money is the root of all evil.

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