Still alive: Link Tax + Censorship Machines

18 January 2019 — Open Media

The new EU Copyright Directive is only days away from being finalized.1 Yet some of its most toxic proposals — the Link Tax and Censorship Machines — are still alive under Articles 11 and 13. If passed, they will turn the Internet into a censored pay-to-play ghost town.2-3

The good news is that we still have one last chance to stop these toxic proposals. We need to make as much noise as possible, and let decision-makers know that we will not accept a Copyright Directive characterized by censorship, surveillance, and corporate interests.

We’ve written a blog post outlining what’s at stake, and what you can do.

Will you help us with the final push against Articles 11 and 13, by sharing this blog with your friends and family?


Over 750,000 people have already voiced their opposition to these proposals via the Save the Link and Save Your Internet campaigns. Even the UN rapporteur for Free Expression has condemned Article 13 as a disaster for free expression that would violate the UN’s Declaration on Human Rights.4 The fact that these proposals are still on the table is outrageous and unacceptable.

The Link Tax (Article 11) would charge a copyright fee for the snippets of texts that usually accompany links and help users find content online by providing small previews. It would require online platforms to pay to link to news sites, which will harm content creators by reducing the discoverability of their content. It also entrenches the largest content aggregators, such as Facebook and Google – who are the only ones with deep-enough pockets to foot the cost of the Link Tax.

Censorship Machines (Article 13) would introduce content filtering requirements, turning online platforms into the copyright police and make them liable for user generated content. This would require all content platforms to implement expensive filtering systems, similar to YouTube’s multi-million dollar Content ID system.

Even these expensive systems result in large volumes of false positives, which will lead to the takedown of legitimate content, silencing of voices, and again, entrench the largest corporations – the only ones who are able to afford these technologies.

If you think this is not as serious as it sounds, just see for yourself what Google would look like post-EU Copyright Directive.5 It is very different from the Internet that you are experiencing today isn’t it? With no article titles, images or news summaries, Google search would be more like an online ghost town with incomplete and missing street signs.

Example of how a search engine would look like with Article 11

Is that the Internet that you want? If the the answer is NO: please share this blog now — time is ticking and this is may be our last best chance of stopping the Link Tax and Censorship Machines before they become law.

Thank you for standing up against censorship, Marie on behalf of OpenMedia

P.S: Our small team punches above its weight to keep governments and decision makers accountable for their decisions that impact millions of Internet users worldwide. Consider making a donation to OpenMedia today to fuel our work in 2019!


[1] Article 13 is almost finished – and it will change the internet as we know it: Julia Reda [2] The Internet is Facing a Catastrophe For Free Expression and Competition: You Could Tip The Balance: EFF [3] EU Copyright Directive to Turn Google into Ghost Town: Bleeping Computer [4] UN Free Speech Expert: EU’s Copyright Directive Would Be An Attack On Free Speech, Violate Human Rights: Techdirt [5] EU copyright directive nearing final form as Google tests stripped-down news SERPs: Search Engine Land

5 thoughts on “Still alive: Link Tax + Censorship Machines

  1. Jared says:

    Since websites can track the source of visitors, I imagine it’s possible that big news companies can come knocking if they see a few clicks from a tiny website. I surely can’t afford to pay any link tax, so in that case it seems the only solution is to disable hyperlinking. But without any hyperlinking, the already weak community would face certain death.

    I hope for some clarity on this, because I personally don’t want to be the one that ends up in court setting the precedent. But I also don’t want to shut down my little community that I’ve kept afloat with personal funds for the past 8 years.


    • barovsky says:

      Jared, we’re all in the same boat! The thing is, big corporate interests can afford to put in place the tracking technology needed to implement this insane and anti-democratic law, and we can’t! I’m not sure what the solution is aside from refusing to comply (or having the law rejected or overturned). Big corporations rule planet via our alleged democracies.

      I’ve emailed Open Media and hopefully they’ll have some answers, we’ll see.


  2. Jared says:

    Hi there. As the owner of a small website that has no ads or monetization, I have been unable to figure out if this link tax or upload filter will affect me personally. The website doesn’t make any money, it just costs me around $120 per year in web hosting fees. The small userbase loves to share news stories and other “links” from around the web. The website was registered in the US, but I’ve since moved to Europe.

    Everyone focuses on big players (google/facebook/wikipedia/etc) or the publishers (news sites), but I have yet to understand the effect on the numerous smaller websites and blogs that often share links or have users who share links. Am I expected to implement some kind of complicated upload filter, and pay the BBC any time a user posts a BBC article on the forums?

    What about a website like yours? If I linked to the BBC in your comments, would you be expected to send them some money?

    I have been searching and can find no information on how this new directive affects small websites, especially those who have no form of monetization. Any information on that would be greatly appreciated.


    • barovsky says:

      Hi Jared, Good question and I have no idea! But as I understand it, a link you supply to a BBC or Guardian story would involve some kind of ‘copyright’ payment to them, though how they’re going to collect it is another story. Actually, I hope they do come knocking as I’d love to make an issue out of it! Have you been to the Open Media website? They might advise you.


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