This is an email sent to my MEPs (Lynn Boylan, Brian Hayes, and Nessa Childers) today, regarding the proposed change to copyright in the EU, known as ‘article 13‘. This change will endanger the ability of small production companies and artists to disseminate their work online. It represents the greatest threat to free communication and creative work online in the history of the EU. You can find out more here or send your own email here.
You are no doubt receiving a lot of emails about the vote on article 13 of the proposed European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market tomorrow.
I am a small independent filmmaker and radio producer. I’ve been developing original programming for radio and web in Ireland since 2008. My website which provides free copies of all my programmes is http://garethstack.com
I wanted to explain to you exactly how article 13 would affect my business and creative output. As a radio producer all of my programmes have been funded through the Sound and Vision Scheme and developed using creative commons assets and public domain assets. These sound effects and music are created by a community of engaged creators who allow their work to be further developed by others for free. This means that when I write and produce a new radio drama, some of the sound effects are original, some are derived and remixed – legally and with blanket licensed permission – from other sources, such as the website freesound.org.
Similarly, when I release my programmes, they are available for others to remix as they see fit. When I record original sound effects foley, they are made available for others to use in their films, TV or radio programmes or in their hobby projects, such as short films. These flexible licences empower creators to decide exactly how their work may be used – remixed with or without credit, shared only when the derivative work uses a similar licence, etc etc.
My shows have been broadcast numerous times on RTE Lyric, Newstalk and local stations throughout Dublin. They have won international awards, and been rebroadcast in the United States. None of them would have been possible to produce or release under article 13.
The legal requirement for automatic upload filtering systems would place an undue burden on free public domain and creative commons hosting services like freesound. More seriously, these systems invariably operate on the assumption that the first uploader to lay claim to a sound or piece of video footage is the ‘owner’ of that footage – irrespective of who originally created it, or what the actual licence under which it is released was. Again and again it has been demonstrated, on youtube, on soundcloud and other platforms, that this leads to widespread abuse. That automated copyright enforcement is both intentionally and accidentally used to remove completely legal clips and programmes. This has already happened to me. In a situation where the delicate web of hosting companies that allow online distribution – from wordpress, to soundcloud, to freesound, to bandcamp; are forced to implement these filtering solutions, businesses like mine will be impossible.
Small media creators – every single one of whom is reliant on both purchasing samples and using free samples; whether sound effects, video clips or music; will be unable to reliably host and distribute their original, legally created content. This will enormously impact the following industries and many others – music production, independent music distribution, film post production, podcasting, radio production etc etc.
This is my personal experience – as someone who has already had content removed incorrectly by automated content system. Systems which cannot be challenged without endangering the creators access to the platform. Systems which operate as black boxes where decisions are made without fair and equal access for creators. Systems that ‘big content’ conglomerates have direct access to ‘take down’ content they do not own, without consequence merely by laying claim to it.
This is not even the primary danger of such systems – which can be abused to limit political speech and to target contentious individuals or political groups. It is not the primary danger of article 13 – which will limit the ability to freely disseminate news and information.
It is however the element of article 13 which directly and immediately affects my livelihood and the livelihood of ALL of those working in the Irish radio and film industry, whether directly or indirectly, from actors to grips, from radio hosts to newspaper delivery drivers.
A regime like this will enable a small number of large conglomerates to lay claim to content they did not create, and to serve as gatekeepers for what is disseminated online. It will not help creators. It will not protect jobs. It is copyright law run amok in the service of corporations that exist explicitly and exclusively to exploit the creative work of others.
I ask you as my MEP to please oppose this legislation. As a voter, I will remember your actions on this issue which threatens my income, and more importantly the continued availability of every piece of work I have created in my adult life.