Thursday, December 2

The controversial Copyright Directive reaches Spain: the door open to the return of Google News and censorship with algorithms

You have arrived late and without the possibility of debate. The controversial Copyright Directive is already in Spain. As announced, the transposition of this European regulation has been implemented via Royal Decree Law, according to reported today the Council of Ministers.

The fears against the “Uribes Law” (now “Iceta Law”) are maintained. Pending its next official publication in the BOE, this new Intellectual Property law will include what is stated in the European directive, as described by the Minister of Culture, Miquel Iceta.

Thus, articles 15 and 17 will be implemented in Spain (old article 13) of the European directive, a fact that opens the door to the return of Google News and prior internet censorship, leaving content control to the algorithms without the need for human review or judicial control.

This is what we know about the new Copyright Decree, how it will affect content platforms and why defenders of freedom of expression on the internet warn of serious consequences.

From Canon AEDE to specific agreements between publishers and platforms

The Government had until June 7 to adapt this regulation, but has been delayed for several months. It has not been the only European country is to be late. As explained by the former Minister of Culture, José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, it was decided to wait for the adaptation recommendations to be published from Brussels.

Among the announced changes is the adaptation of controversial articles 15 and 17 of the European directive on which it is based. The first of them forces large search engines and content aggregators to pay a royalty to press publishers to quote and reproduce a fragment (snippet) of the publication.

A measure that has as a great reference to Google and its relationship with the press. However, other companies such as Facebook they have also started to pay to press editors. Through its News Showcase service, Google has reached specific agreements with large publishers to pay them for linking. In return, this Copyright Directive in Spain also anticipates the return of Google News.

Google News

Among the changes that are introduced is the elimination of the term “inalienable” in article 15. Of the CANON we passed this regulation that will allow companies negotiate case by case to see how this compensation is done.

“With regard to the form of management of this right, the Royal Decree-law does not pronounce on the matter, thus giving the option and freedom to each editor and owner of rights to manage it, either individually, through direct negotiation with the digital content aggregators, or through a collective management entity on a voluntary, not compulsory basis, “explains the Ministry of Culture.

Giving power to algorithms

The same legislation is also a dangerous reform that can severely limit freedom of expression. Platforms such as Facebook or Twitter will be forced to installation of filters to prevent users from uploading copyrighted materials. That is, the application of algorithms to control what is published on the networks.

In the absence of its publication in the BOE, from Culture they only make reference that “it responds to the demands of the Spanish cultural sector and, especially, to the one referred to the specific regulation of the responsibility of those online platforms that allow storage and exchange of content protected by intellectual property rights uploaded by users. “

“Autofilters are likely to be overzealous about removing non-commercial content created by consumers for fun (eg parodies). This type of content is exempt under the new law, but How will machines distinguish these subtle differences? On many occasions, they won’t“, alerted from the Consumer Voice organization.

“Freedom of expression and freedom of information on the internet are being touched, two fundamental rights that are going to be affected. Private censorship is being imposed, that of the Platforms, above all this. And this cannot be done without transparency and without a parliamentary debate. It brings us closer to Belarus than to an EU rule of law “, explained Carlos Sanchez Almeida, Legal Director of the Platform in Defense of Freedom of Information (PDLI).

From the Xnet platform they point out that it is the transposition of a “directive that contains particularly delicate elements” and “shows to what degree this law is likely to represent primarily trade union interests and partisan clienteles. ”

Image | Michael Dziedzic