I’ve written before about politicians who don’t understand technology are passing laws about it constantly, and why it might be a bad idea. This week, Mike Masnick at TechDirt did a pretty good job of explaining why the news industry trade group spokesmen who wants the US to pass something similar to what the EU is currently looking at, known as Article 11, is dead wrong.
The basic idea behind Article 11, and the ideas being floated by the legacy news industry here in the US, is that Google, Facebook, etc. are ripping off news websites by, well, it’s not really clear because the quote kind of doesn’t make sense:
Facebook and Google flatly refuse to pay for news even though they license many other types of content. Both companies have deals to pay music publishers when copyrighted songs play on their platforms. And the companies also aggressively bid to stream live sports and entertainment content to run on Facebook Watch and YouTube. These deals are varied and often secret, but none of them are based on “free.”
Masnick does a good job dissecting this in the article linked above, and I highly suggest going and reading it. But this one is really an example of someone basically making something up, either willfully lying about how Facebook and Google link to news sources, or he truly doesn’t use the internet at all.
Playing the entire content of an event or song on your own website would be copyright infringement without a license agreement. So when these companies do that, they pay for the license. Simply linking to a news story on another website does not require that. We went through this years ago when companies wanted blogs and other websites to sign a licensing agreement just to link to their site, until everyone involved realized that was stupid and self-destructive because you WANT people to link to your site as much as possible!
But the news industry somehow remains oblivious to this fact. And they are hoping that politicians will also be oblivious to it as well, and force technology companies that have been successful on the internet to subsidize them for not being successful on the internet. They’re getting close to doing it in the EU. The US is next. It will, likewise, be interesting the first time a smallish site, like a blog, does what we do all the time, take a snippet of an article, with a link back to the news publisher site and talk about it. Will it require paying the news publisher? That’s one way to make everyone just stop talking about and linking to your site. Awesome job.
Do you know whether your representatives understand how the internet works enough to stand up to this?