As Brussels ideas go, this is one is up there with the ban on over-bendy bananas and serving olive oil in bowls after a leaked document claimed the EU wants to extend copyright laws to web links, making anyone who links to a web-page that contains copyrighted content liable for copyright infringement.
The extension of EU copyright law is being pushed by digital commissioner Gunther Oettinger and European Parliament president Martin Schulz, as part of their plans to stamp out digital piracy.
However, in addition to threatening consumers and businesses with inadvertent copyright claims – for linking, for example, to a blog containing an image purloined from an image library – it would also stifle people’s freedom to share links to online information, such as links to other sites.
Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda told Computing: “Each web link would become a legal landmine and would allow press publishers to hold every single actor on the Internet liable.
“This is based on an absurd idea that just won’t die: making search engines and news portals pay media companies for promoting their freely accessible articles.
Reda claimed the plan would be published next month. “The leaked text is not a law proposal, but just a summary of the Commission’s plans for next year,” she said.
She suggested the plans may have been leaked in order to test public opinion. “If there’s no protest, the plan can be pursued,” she warned.
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