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Article 11: What it is, and How it Affects You

If you pay close attention to international legislation, you may be familiar with Article 11 of the European Union’s copyright directive.

However, whether you’re aware of the bill or not, you may be wondering, “How would a law in Europe affect me?”

Now that Article 11 has passed, countries like the US, Canada, Australia, and other free societies may have legislators that are tempted to pass similar laws, which could limit access to social media 💻 and news outlets 📰. 

Have I caught your attention? 👀

In order to understand the potential effects of Article 11 on the world 🌎, we must first define what the law means.

What is Article 11?

Back in 2009, German newspapers 🗞️asked parliament for a law that would require social media platforms such as Google to pay a fee 💲 each time they displayed a headline and news story snippet on their site.

In other words, any time the first line or two explaining the basics of a news story appeared online 🌐, the platform would have to pay the newspaper.

The law passed, but the sites, including Google, didn’t pay ❌. 

As a result, in June of 2014, the German newspapers congregated and sued Google for 11% of the earnings that resulted from displaying the papers’ headlines and news snippets.

However, in response to the lawsuit, Google stopped displaying news snippets and, as you could imagine, Internet traffic to the newspapers’ websites plummeted 📉. 

Therefore, the newspapers were forced to drop the charges against Google and allow their news snippets to be displayed for free.

Then, in March of 2019, European parliament voted to pass Article 11, requiring social media platforms to pay a fee to newspapers in order to display their headlines and news snippets. 

Pros 👍 and cons 👎

Proponents of Article 11 claim that the previous copyright law didn’t do enough to protect 🛡️ authors of news stories.

These individuals argue that journalists who spend time ⌛ and effort 💪 to research 🔎 a story should rightly receive a piece of the money 💵 that social media platforms bring in from displaying it.

Opponents of Article 11, on the other hand, say the law could hinder news access and freedom of expression in the news. 

In fact, these individuals believe that Article 11 could help spread #fake news, since news from reputable sites will incur a cost 💰 for social media attorney platforms. 

In order to avoid paying to post news, these sites will most likely share free news instead – and like everything else, they’ll get what they pay for 🤷‍♂️.

Other opponents of the law simply cite the German newspapers’ experience back from 2014. They say that news outlets won’t benefit from Article 11 because traffic to their websites will all but stop 🛑 completely! 

My take

As a social media lawyer, I view Article 11 as a law that’s bound to fail. 

While I certainly respect the rights of newspapers and journalists to copyrights, Article 11 is not an effective way to go about it.

By passing this law, the EU fails to realize that sites like Google are actually providing a service 🛎️ to news outlets.

Think about it: When you see a headline or news snippet on Google and click to read it, you’re sent straight to the newspaper’s website! 

This situation is not one in which Google is incurring a profit of any kind from the article itself; they are merely providing an advertising service to the news outlet.

What should they do instead?

Although these news sites have the capabilities to use ads to increase revenue and pay 💸 their journalists for their hard work, there are other possible strategies for compromise here.

For example, European news publishers could work out a deal 🤝 with Google in which they share revenue for increased visibility of their articles. 

In the end, there must be a solution to this problem that can please both parties.

What do you think 🤔? 

Let me know in the comments how you feel about Article 11 and whether you have any ideas for a potential compromise.