Letter to MEP re Link Tax and Content Filtering


Dear Member of the European Parliament,

I am writing to express my concern about the Commission’s proposal on Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive, announced on September 14.

I am worried about the proposals in Article 11 and 13 which amount to a link tax, and mandatory censorship.

The “Link Tax” proposal creates a new ancillary copyright for press publishers. This new right would create unprecedented new monopolies for publishing giants to charge fees for snippets of text that automatically accompany hyperlinks.

The Link Tax will act as a brake to innovative EU digital startups that will never be able to get off the ground if forced to pay these fees. This proposal has failed everywhere it has been previously tried, including Germany and Spain.

I draw your attention to a briefing on this issue produced by the Save The Link campaign (https://SaveTheLink.org), which I support. You can download the briefing here:


I am also very concerned about the new proposal for content filtering and increased liability of Internet companies. The proposal at Article 13 includes requirements for monitoring Internet users, demanding that tech companies produce filtering robots to detect the copyright status of user-generated content. This filtering would not be done on the basis on what is legal, but on whether uploads contain content that has been "identified" by rightsholders. This would overturn existing rights for quotation, parody and other public-interest copyright exceptions.

The European Commission pushed this idea forward despite overwhelming opposition in its consultation from over 120,000 Internet users and dozens of civil society groups.

The Commission has failed to defend the interests of citizens – we need you to stand up and act as our voice.

We ask you to pay close attention to Article 11 which proposes an ancillary copyright for press publishers as well as Article 13 and recitals 38 and 39 which propose mandated content filtering technologies.

Please, stand up for my rights and challenge these proposals which will seriously harm the Internet, and the citizens you represent.

I look forward to hearing your response.

With regards,


Additional text by Philip Tagg

Ever since I published my doctorate about TV music in 1979, I've repeatedly come up against obstacles to the dissemination of research findings and to their use in education. I've had to use a New York lawyer, expert in Fair Use legislation, to help set up a not-for-profit online publishing company, The Mass Media Music Scholars' Press (see http://tagg.org/mmmsp/background.html). Robot searches of my online videos which follow the US Federal Code are regularly taken down despite the total legality of their dissemination on the internet through Fair Use (see Fair use definitions in US Code ('Copyright Law of the United States', 2011), §107 (p. 19) and §118 (p. 74)). As the British Academy point out, these measures severely hamper access to knowledge about the modern media and deprives pupils and students of their right to understand the issues involved (see British Academy report at http://tagg.org/xpdfs/BritAcadRpt2006.pdf, pp. 12-14, §§36-43 Under ‘Musical extracts’). The British Academy states: ‘There are well-founded concerns that new database rights and the development of digital rights management systems (DRMs) may enable rights holders to circumvent the effects of the copyright exemptions designed to facilitate research and scholarship.’

It should also be borne in mind that ‘Companies benefiting from fair use generate substantial revenue, employ millions of workers, and, in 2006, represented one-sixth of total U.S. GDP’ (http://www.ccianet.org/wp-content/uploads/library/CCIA-FairUseintheUSEconomy-2011.pdf).

In other words, the measures proposed by the EU jeopardise not only educational rights and innovative research in the social sciences and humanities; they also threaten the considerable economic advantages made possible by an enlightened application of Fair Use legislation.