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The Article 13/50 Edition

28 March 2019

1. Story of the Week

What happened?

The oft-celebrated and much maligned EU Copyright Directive passed in the European Parliament this week after several high-profile iterations. The directive, much like any other of its species is largely uncontroversial and updates outdated EU copyright legislation. It is just two provisions, however, relating to the Internet which have taken the lion’s share of the media coverage and activists’ passions. Designed originally to battle pirating of video and audio online, Article 11 (where links to websites are covered by copyright) and Article 13 (which makes large technology companies responsible for copyrighted material posted on their websites) have provoked a storm of opposition by those that argue that it will limit freedom of expression and give big platforms power over all content posted online via filters. So much so, protests preceded the passing of the bill whose vote was reportedly plagued by fat finger MEPs.

Why it matters

What’s in a meme? The world wide web is 30 years old and its growing pains have been well documented. Among those is the copyright infringement claims of artists and small players who accuse large centralised platforms of benefiting from the infringement of their intellectual work. As this European Parliament legislature wraps up, the proponents of this legislation have cited this legislation as an integral part of the Digital Single Market, the magnum opus the EU has been working on the past four years. On the other side of the argument, the claims that the increased application of upload filters will, in practice, affect everything uploaded from blog posts to memes (even though an exemption was made for parody material) and set a dangerous precedent for the policing of online material. The latter concerns are also shared by certain EU member state governments who have yet to vote the directive through the Council in order for it to begin to be transposed by all 28–1 individual member states.

The takeaway

Saying that the ‘EU broke the internet’ might be overestimating the EU but it still isn’t good news. At a time where the EU is having a global public relations win with its handling of Brexit and certain competition fines against big tech, this news might shift the casual observer from EU neutral/positive to outraged for no marginal benefit. With regard to the actual accusation of breaking the internet, the jury is out. Complexities and opaqueness cited about the directive will mean that its practical application will be staggeredand its transposition non-uniform. In addition, much of the technology required in order to enforce the legislation may evolve, such as the upload filters and may be circumvented by emerging technologies such as blockchain and AI which could allow content to be shared without the threat of copyright infringement nor centralised control. Expect neither side of the debate to be happy as this legislation comes into being.

2. Tweets of the Week
3. Numbers of the Week
5.9

The number in millions of people that have signed a petition on the UK parliament website to revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU. After the website crashed several times and a million (wo)man march in London people last Saturday, the likelihood of UK remaining in the EU is higher than ever, only trumped by the odds that it will crash out with no deal (bookie’s favourite).

2021

The year that daylight saving time will disappear in the European Union. The European Parliament voted this week to do away with the practice of moving the clocks by 60 minutes twice a year between March and October. Even broken clocks are correct twice a day and now the EU will make sure that the extra hour’s sleep you thought you had will forever be a dream.

7

The amount in billions of euros that the European medical cannabis market is projected to grow to by 2023. The growth of the herbal remedy will no doubt be coupled with aggressive lobbying. Enter Antonio Constanzo, a former Uber public policy bigwig that is one of the people tasked with navigating the legal cannabis market in Europe and sell it to policymakers. With its many, regulatory and penal implications don’t expect a marijuana Starbucks near you anytime soon.

A Message From Our Partners

Trainees of the EU unite! If you are a young Eurocrat looking to get your groove on in Brussels look no further than the EU Trainee Bible as your one stop shop for career and beer advice as well as a big brotherly intro to the European institutions so you never get caught off guard at a trialogue.

4. Quotes of the Week

“We have blinked. We have baulked. We have bottled it completely. We have now undergone the humiliation of allowing the EU to decide the date on which we may make our own departure”

Former UK foreign minister and British Donald Trump doppelganger, Boris Johnson, speaking out on the EU Council’s decision last week to extend the Brexit deadline (originally tomorrow) to 12 April 2019. If Theresa May pulls off a Hail Mary and passes her withdrawal agreement then they have until the 22 May to pass through all relevant legislation. She has since promised to resign if her deal passes a third meaningful vote that still yet to be scheduled. Its doesn’t look good so far the for PM since she lost control of the process to Parliament who set out a series of indicative votes yesterday evening that were all rejected ultimately paving the way for the same situation as this time last week.

“There is no ‘automaticity’ in the process,’

The words of Dutch superstar architect Rem Koolhas, on the eve on the Brexit vote in 2016 on what would happen if the Leave vote won. Since then other architects of note have waxed lyrical on the effect that Brexit will have on Britain’s built environment by sending open letters to the press and to the UK Prime Minister as their creative influence and workforce dwindle. Another industry obituary for the Brexit history books.

“Pea soup and a complete absence of coffee

The words of Dutch superstar architect Rem Koolhas, on the eve on the Brexit vote in 2016 on what would happen if the Leave vote won. Since then other architects of note have waxed lyrical on the effect that Brexit will have on Britain’s built environment by sending open letters to the press and to the UK Prime Minister as their creative influence and workforce dwindle. Another industry obituary for the Brexit history books.

 

5. Video of the Week

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