Digital commissioner Günther Oettinger (CDU – EPP) is joining with European Parliament president Martin Schulz (SPD – S&D) in pressing the European Commission to create a copyright interest in links, meaning that making a link to a Web-page that contains infringing material would expose you to liability for copyright infringement yourself.
Duh? Fortunately, the effort by politicians who must have too much time on their hands to do anything useful will likely not succeed. Even so, as Doctorow points out:
It's a grotesque perversion of copyright, which gives creators the right to control who may copy and display their creations, expanding this right to encompass who may factually state the location of copies of those works.
Bonkers or what?
German Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda hopes that by drawing attention to what is a thinly veiled attempt at shoring up failing publishing models will meet with enough resistance that the proposals are still born. But if you think this is a publishing only issue then you'd be mistaken. Linking provides a valuable way to easily spread ideas, start conversations and follow thought processes. As such, links are one of the cornerstones of a free internet and through which we all benefit.
Past attempts at introducing such measures in both Spain and Germany led to much bigger problems for the very publishers the measures were supposed to protect. The creation of a wholesale right would almost certainly be impossible to operate and effectively cut Europe off from the rest of the world...and its own member states....and its own people.
Of greater concern to me though are the reactions of US-based influencers like Om Malik who Tweeted:
Sometimes I wonder why EU politicians even pretend to like technology. Yet another "bonkers" idea! https://t.co/yrVAjYrtUN
— Om Malik (@om) November 8, 2015
Yes, Om, you're right. This is shameful.