European Parliament rejects ‘Link Tax’ proposal, in big win for Internet users
75,000-strong Save The Link Campaign supports the rejection of proposal that could have resulted in severe repercussions for free speech online
July 9, 2015 – Today the European Parliament firmly rejected a proposal that could have resulted in a new EU-wide ‘Link Tax’ with costly implications for Internet users across Europe and the world. A similar ‘Link Tax’ was introduced in Spain last December, where it forced Google News to shut operations, and resulted in web traffic to Spanish news sites plunging.
The proposal was contained in an amendment backed by large publishing conglomerates to an otherwise fairly positive report on copyright reforms. Today MEPs strongly backed the copyright reforms, while voting down the ‘Link Tax’ amendment. The result is welcomed by the Save The Link network, which has rallied over 75,000 people against the new tax.
“This is good news for Internet users everywhere,” said Meghan Sali from OpenMedia, the organization leading the Save the Link campaign. “A ‘Link Tax’ would have had devastating consequences for freedom of expression and our right to access and share information online. Today’s big win shows the power that Internet users have when we stand together.”
Sali continued: “A ‘Link Tax’ is essentially a cash-grab from giant media conglomerates, desperate to shore up an outdated business model off the backs of Internet users. It’s great to see MEPs reject this tax while backing positive steps forward on copyright–now we need to build on this progress.”
Campaigners are now turning their focus to ensuring the EU Commission listens to what Internet users and the EU Parliament have said when it comes to copyright reform. Although a number of the copyright reforms set out in German MEP Julia Reda’s report have been broadly welcomed by pro-Internet groups, much work remains to be done to ensure copyright rules in the 21st century facilitate access to knowledge and culture.
A number of the EU report’s key recommendations echo those of OpenMedia’s Our Digital Future report last year, which was crowdsourced from 300,000 people in 155 countries.
Over 75,000 Internet users have signed the petition at https://SaveTheLink.org
OpenMedia is an award-winning community-based organization that safeguards the possibilities of the open Internet. We work toward informed and participatory digital policy by engaging hundreds of thousands of people in protecting our online rights.
The Right to Link is under threat around the world:
In Germany, influential press publishers forced legislators to implement an ‘ancillary copyright for press publishers’ that limits how others can link to their news websites. The legislation pushes search engines and news aggregators to acquire licenses for links that include snippets, resulting in lost and inaccessible content.
That same approach was then copied in Spain, where Google News was forced to shut down due to new copyright rules forcing web publishers to pay a fee in order to link out to external content.
In Canada, a provincial court passed a ruling ordering Google to block website search results, not just from its Canadian service, but from its worldwide index.
In the U.S., media conglomerates are trying to exploit obscure trade rules to block access to foreign websites they disapprove of.
In Russia, lawmakers have just approved legislation that will force websites to remove search results about a specific person, at that person’s request.
Free Expression Campaigner, OpenMedia