Article 17: The time to act is now.

Posted on Thu 21 March 2019 in blog • 3 min read

On Tuesday, March 26 at half-past noon Central European Time, the European Parliament is due to vote on an issue that will definitely impact your life, no matter if you live in or outside the EU. No, it has nothing to do with Brexit. Brexit has just managed to monopolise your attention. The Tuesday vote has much more far-reaching consequences.

What’s going on here?

On Tuesday, the EP will vote on a Directive “on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market”, the draft of which you can look up here (PDF in English), also known as the EU Copyright Directive.

Now this thing attempts to be a 21st-century copyright law, which is laudable, but it does absolutely awful things: go take a look at this video to get the quick run-down. It’ll only take 4 minutes of your time. And as you’ll see from the video, this law will have a devastating global impact on society at large. (While completely failing to achieve its ostensible goals, mind you.)

What is apparent from the discussion around this directive is that it isn’t being pushed by exceptionally clueful people. One MEP in favor of the directive once publicly surmised that he was dealing with a concerted campaign from Google, because lots of the email in his inbox came from addresses. The rapporteur on the directive hasn’t subscribed to any YouTube channel and thinks that there is a Memes section on Google, and when properly roasted on Twitter, someone representing his party publicly doubled down on his behalf.

In the words of Janus Kopfstein:

It’s no longer OK to not know how the internet works.

Yes, he wrote that in 2011, and addressed at the U.S. Congress, but here we are, with our European representatives still needing that reminder 8 years on.

They even tried the oldest trick in the book: once all of Europe started screaming about Article 13, they renumbered. So what used to be Article 13 is now Article 17. Don’t get confused; this is just a ploy by people who print out emails.

Now luckily, the backers of Article 17 are opposed by a good bunch of people who are clued in, and have pledged to strike this Directive down in the EP on Tuesday.

OK. So what do I do?

You can sign a petition. It already has 5 million supporters, and there will likely be many more. But supporting that petition is not enough.

You can check out your own MEPs for their status at Pledge 2019. And you can lean on them: Pledge 2019 lets you call the people whose job it is to represent you in the EP, and if they haven’t pledged to reject the Directive in its current form, you can let them know (in no uncertain terms) that you won’t be voting for them or their party in the upcoming EP elections in May.

Also, there’s Save Your Internet. The primary spin your pro-upload filter reps are trying to put on the discussion is that the legislation isn’t opposed by an appreciable number of real people, and that only astroturfing bots want this law struck down. You can write an email, send a letter (yes, a letter, as in, snail mail), or call them.

And finally, Save The Internet (yes, everyone’s, not just yours). March 23 is a day of pan-European protest against Article 17. Find a rally and go.