Tell the Commission and save the link!  19/11/2015 by Tom Hirche

Civil society and digital rights groups are sounding the alarm about a public consultation run by the European Commission on the role of online platforms, the result of which could be new copyright rules that would effectively shut down people’s right to freely link online. The 75,000-strong Save The Link network has created an Internet Voice Tool to send feedback to the Commission as part of their consultation.

A recently leaked draft communication on copyright reform reveals that the European Commission is considering copyrighting the act of linking to content freely available elsewhere online. Earlier this year, the European Parliament firmly rejected a proposal that could have resulted in a new EU-wide ‘Link Tax’, and this leaked document appears to be an attempt to raise the issue once more.

“If these proposals proceed unchanged, it would effectively change the Internet beyond all recognition,” said Meghan Sali, digital rights specialist for OpenMedia. “Without links to lead us around the Web, the content we want to see would be locked away. Even giant websites like Facebook and Twitter may end up censoring content if they think they’ll be liable for everything their users link to. That’s why it’s crucial for users across the globe to speak directly to the Commission and tell them to reject this reckless plan.”

Experts are warning of the consequences for free speech if the Commission’s plan gets the green light:

  • Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group said: "We all use links everyday to find information, share news, join movements and give opinions. If you threaten links, you threaten the web, and restrict our ability to fully engage in the digital world."
  • Dr Till Kreutzer, Founder of the Initiative against an ancillary copyright for press publishers (IGEL), said: "Copyright on links would kill the Internet."
  • Julia Reda, MEP and European Parliament Copyright Rapporteur, warns that the “European Commission is planning a frontal attack on the hyperlink, the basic building block of the Internet as we know it.”
  • Alek Tarkowski, president of the COMMUNIA Association for the public domain, warned that “considerations to make links copyrightable are dangerous, as this can break fundamental architectural underpinnings of the internet as we know it”.
  • Timothy Vollmer, Public Policy Manager at Creative Commons said, "Julia Reda's copyright report and vote in the Parliament highlights the sentiments of millions of Internet users calling for the right to link. From an economic perspective, the attempt to place restrictions on linking already has been proven ineffective in Spain and Germany. Any future attempt would continue to harm innovation and freedom of expression."

Internet users can make their voices heard at

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