EU Copyright Directive - please join the fight

Copyright is a good thing. It incentivizes creators, it lets capital fund creativity, and it is rooted in human morality of "fairness" about usage of original work.

But copyright terms have been extended multiple times in the past century. This runs counter to the technological revolution we have been witnessing. It has become much cheaper to create and so the "fixed cost of creation" argument for copyright is less valid that it used to be. It has become much cheaper to distribute work (zero marginal cost of replication/distribution). Thus limiting access to copyrighted work is a significant drain on public welfare. If anything, we should be limiting copyright.

Contrary to this, the European Union is moving a new Copyright Directive through its legislative process at the moment. The most problematic piece of it is Article 13. You can read it here and Ars Technica has a good run-down on the various issues. 

The key problem is that it shifts liability for the protection of copyright onto "sharing platforms." This does away with the "hosting" defence that is at the core of the growth of all online services, whether it is individual web hosts or the monolithic sharing platforms like YouTube or Facebook. In my view, there is no question that this is a mandate for upload filters.

While there is an exception for startups (less than five million monthly users or less than three years old or less than ten million in revenue), Albert Wenger of USV rightly asks "why would you start anything new if after 3 years or after reaching 5 million monthly uniques you were subject to this ridiculousness?"

The European Union works hard to support the startup ecosystem, not least through the fantastic support as a Limited Partner via the European Investment Fund. Legislative intiatives such as this make it much harder for Europe to stay a fount of innovative companies and compete with other geographies for the best online talent. If anything, we should make up for our relative weakness versus the US and China and create better legislation for intellectual property.

I strongly enourage you to make up your own mind. And once you have, to sign the petition on and put in a phone call to your Member of European Parliament. 

We previously won on net neutrality. Let's do the same on copyright.