International network of organizations launches campaign to safeguard the Right To Link

Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Legislators in European Parliament and Commission are considering updates to copyright proposals that would censor links for Internet users TORONTO – A large network of over 50 organizations from 21 countries is coming together to “Save The Link”. Today, the network is launching a multilingual international campaign aimed at pushing back against efforts by powerful media conglomerates to censor links and stifle free expression on the Internet. One of the proposals being advanced could make users personally liable for the content of websites they link to online. The campaign launches as legislators in the EU are considering a major copyright review, including amendments to the European Union’s Copyright Directive that experts say would fundamentally undermine the right to link. In addition, a recent leak from the European Commission reveals measures that could force online companies to monitor the activities of Internet users in order to block content in other countries. In tandem with the launch of the campaign, organizers have set up a Thunderclap social media amplification tool demanding that legislators protect the right to link. The message will reach over 1.4 million people. Considering some of the world's most popular web services are based in the EU, the proposals have implications for Internet users and businesses everywhere. Commenting on the launch of the campaign, OpenMedia Campaigns Coordinator Meghan Sali had this to say: “The link censorship amendments being considered could restrict the online expression of Internet users around the world. These amendments are out-of-step with our crowdsourced plan for free expression online that over 300,000 people around the world contributed to.” Sali continued, “The overall proposals from European Parliament Rapporteur Julia Reda are sensible and forward-thinking, and have been acclaimed internationally as a model for global best practice. Sadly, a number of the amendments proposed by other MEPs are frankly irresponsible. If implemented, these extreme amendments would undermine the Right to Link and ruin the Internet as we know it.” From proposed new changes to copyright law in Europe, to new takedown demands imposed on web services in several jurisdictions, to a range of Internet censorship activities revealed in the Sony hack, threats to the right to link are emerging 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.
Already, over 20,000 people have spoken out at SaveTheLink.org About CJFE CJFE monitors, defends and reports on free expression and access to information in Canada and abroad. Rooted in the field of journalism, we promote a free media as essential to a fair and open society. CJFE boldly champions the free expression rights of all people, and encourages and supports individuals and groups in the protection of their own and others' free expression rights. cjfe.org -30-

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