Copyright in the digital age has long been a contentious topic, but it’s probably fair to say the issue has never really decided a general election. But that could change this spring in the European Union.
After a delay, and a lengthy negotiation process, EU leaders this week announced a deal on the EU's 2016 Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market—which includes two tweaked but still controversial measures: Article 13, which compels online platforms to scan user-uploaded content for allegedly infringing items; and Article 11, the so-called “link tax.”
In an official EU press release, Axel Voss, a member of the European Parliament from Germany, praised the deal as a step toward protecting creators and creative industries from a handful of large tech firms. The deal, Voss said, "helps make the internet ready for the future, a space which benefits everyone, not only a powerful few.”
Of course, as with any copyright action in the digital age—but especially with this specific legislation—there is strong opposition. On the EFF website, Cory Doctorow calls the final deal the worst version of the proposal yet. And, he notes the timing of the bill’s next steps: perilously close to the EU elections. As it stands, the bill should head to the European Parliament for a vote before the whole body during the March 25-28 session or the April 15-18 session, Doctorow notes. And the EU parliamentary elections? They are set for May.
“The Members of the European Parliament are going to be fighting an election right after voting on this Directive,” Doctorow writes. “Let's get real: no EU political party will be able to campaign for votes on the strength of passing the Copyright Directive—but plenty of parties will be able to drum up support to throw out the parties that defied the will of voters, and risked the destruction of the Internet as we know it…”
Copyright reform is no stranger to hardball politics—SOPA, anyone? But that a copyright proposal might actually sway a general election is a development worth watching.
Editor's Note: The Week in Libraries column will be off next week February 22. The column will return with the March 1 newsletter.
Meanwhile, back in the U.S., will net neutrality be an issue in the 2020 elections? The Hill notes that Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar raised the subject in her speech announcing her candidacy.
From Wired, the ever-visionary Kevin Kelly writes about the next wave of tech disruption, an augmented-reality fueled era he calls Mirrorworld. "We are now at the dawn of the third platform, which will digitize the rest of the world. On this platform, all things and places will be machine-readable, subject to the power of algorithms. Whoever dominates this grand third platform will become among the wealthiest and most powerful people and companies in history, just as those who now dominate the first two platforms have."
From the local CBS affiliate in Greenville, South Carolina: after "multiple threats," deputies will be on-hand at the Five Forks Library this weekend to ensure security during a scheduled Drag Queen Story Hour event.
From SF Gate, here's how you handle such threats: After protests, an estimated 500 attend East Bay library's 'Drag Queen Story Hour.
Over at Book Riot, a librarian shares some memorable patron interactions.
Huffington Post remembers the late Tomi Ungerer, the award-winning author and illustrator who apparently once stopped “a mob of prudish librarians with a well-placed F-Bomb” at an ALA conference.
From Oregon Live a look at how Oregon State archivists are sharing their treasures via social media.
From The Guardian, a report that the a revolutionary AI system that can write news stories and works of fiction have declined to release the system, because it is so good and "the risk of malicious use so high" that it needs more time to discuss its ramifications. The company is supported by Elon Musk, so, chances are this is a pretty good shot at PR, or attracting investors.
The Economist looks at the popularity and success of Oodi, Helsinki’s new central library. "Visitors will find few books on its shelves: since it opened in December, a staggering 70% of the 100,000-odd collection has been borrowed," the article reports, and “roughly 60% of the city’s population visited the library in its first month."
In Indiana, local affiliate WANE 15 blew the lid off this scandal. Apparently, a part-time employee at the Allen County Public Library started a petition after discovering that the library has been "purging" books from its shelves. "The library says they get rid of books every so often to make room for storage," WANE 15 reported. Imagine that?