Say No to Online Censorship in Europe!

The EU is finalising a new censorship proposal. If it becomes law, the content you try to upload and share with your friends will be filtered out and banned by bots, all in the name of copyright protection. Send our email to European parliamentarians!

Say No to Online Censorship in Europe!

37885 signatures of 40,000 goal

A new era of censorship is threatening online free speech in Europe. YouTube, Facebook and other file-sharing platforms could soon be forced to apply algorithms to check if your upload has any copyrighted elements. They would filter out and ban anything that might cause a problem. Don’t let this happen! Stand up for free speech and protest against this proposal by sending an email to European parliamentarians now!

Dear Member of the European Parliament,

I’m sending this email as a concerned citizen of the EU whose fundamental rights are under threat.

The European Parliament is responsible for the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms. Article 13 of the proposed Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market seriously violates the freedom of expression and personal data protection enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The draft Article 13 of the Directive introduces new obligations on internet service providers that share and store user-generated content, such as video or photo-sharing platforms, including obligations to monitor and filter uploads to their services.

Article 13 contradicts existing EU rules and the case law of the Court of Justice. The Directive of Electronic Commerce (2000/31/EC) regulates the liability for those internet companies that host content on behalf of their users. According to the existing rules, providers have an obligation to remove any content that breaches copyright rules as soon as it is brought to their attention.

In contrast, Article 13 would force these companies to actively monitor their users' content. This contradicts the ‘no general obligation to monitor' principle in the Electronic Commerce Directive. The requirement to install a system for filtering electronic communications has twice been rejected by the Court of Justice, in the cases Scarlet Extended (C 70/10) and Netlog/Sabam (C 360/10). Therefore, a legislative provision that requires internet companies to install a filtering system would almost certainly be rejected by the Court of Justice. This is because it would contravene the requirement that a fair balance be struck between the right to intellectual property on the one hand, and the freedom to conduct business and the right to freedom of expression, such as to receive or impart information, on the other.

The requirement to filter content in this way would violate the freedom of expression set out in Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Internet companies, like all commercial enterprises, exist to generate a profit. This means that they will try to avoid the possibility of fines. As such, they are inherently incentivised to apply filtering mechanisms, and to do so in such a way as to minimise possible liability. This will lead to excessive filtering and deletion of content, and it will limit both the freedom to impart information and the freedom to receive information.

If EU legislation conflicts with the Charter of Fundamental Rights, national constitutional courts are likely to be tempted to disapply the conflicting law, leading to the uneven application of EU law across the member states until the issue is resolved by the Court of Justice. This is what happened with the Data Retention Directive (2006/24/EC), when EU legislators ignored compatibility problems with the Charter of Fundamental Rights. In 2014, the Court of Justice declared the Data Retention Directive invalid because it violated the Charter.

The Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) of the European Parliament voted against the censorship solution put forward in the Commission's proposal for Article 13. LIBE proposes to remove the two most controversial provisions of Article 13. First, it recommends removing mandatory filtering for every single upload to the internet. Second, it clarifies that measures to ensure enforcement of licensing arrangements should not include general monitoring obligations for internet companies. LIBE’s solution, however, does not offer a proper redress and complaint mechanism to those whose fundamental rights are accidentally breached when companies remove content that does not violate intellectual property rights or fall within an exception to protect a legitimate public interest.

Removing the most controversial parts offers a more balanced approach than the original Article 13, which, if passed in its present form, would clearly breach fundamental rights. There are, however, less intrusive ways than LIBE’s approach to balance freedom of expression and data protection on the one hand, and copyright on the other. The draft Directive regulates licensing agreements in detail. There is no need to have further special requirements under Article 13. The deletion of Article 13 would maintain the structural logic of the draft Directive and would not jeopardise right holders’ rights.

We ask you to protect our fundamental rights and vote against Article 13. This is the only way to guarantee compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights and still allow intellectual property rights to be protected.

Sincerely yours,

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Send an email to European parliamentarians urging them to vote against this proposal. Act now! It’s about our freedom to speak. It’s about censorship.

Here is the email you can send to EU representatives with just a single click →

(We are thrilled to announce that we have reached our goal of 30,000 emails, but the fight is not over! Our new goal is 40,000 emails.)

If the new EU copyright proposal is passed, we will be living in a new era of censorship. YouTube, Facebook and other file-sharing platforms would be forced to implement new algorithms to check whether the content you upload has any copyrighted elements. Bots would judge what you can share – and what can be shared with you. They would filter out and ban anything that might cause a problem. Any problem. It’s about our freedom to speak. It’s about censorship.

Don’t let this happen! Stand up for free speech in Europe and protest against this proposal by sending an email to European parliamentarians of the JURI Committee now!

Do you want to do more? Call your MEP for free and share your concerns

Copyright protection is important for everyone. But with this proposal, the EU has developed the wrong tool for the job. They want online companies like YouTube and Facebook to check everything that ordinary people put on the internet and filter out any upload that contains copyrighted material.

How will these companies achieve this? With bots, of course. And because companies would rather be overly cautious than risk a fine, these bots will be so strict that we won’t be able to upload anything that has even the slightest chance of infringing copyright. That video of your friends having at a music festival that you wanted to post to Facebook? Banned because there’s copyrighted music in the background. That hilarious meme you wanted to tweet? Banned because it uses an image from a film.

We can’t rely on bots to draw the line between what’s free speech and what’s genuinely pirated material. And it’s not only your free speech at stake here. Your right to a private life is also under threat, because the only way these companies can filter your uploads is by constantly monitoring you.

It’s not too late to stop this proposal, but your support is crucial. Please take a second to send this email to members of the European Parliament and ask them to vote against this proposal.

Read what has happened so far

Free-Speech Pitfall Avoided in EU Copyright Reform
Monitoring and Filtering of Internet Content is Unacceptable

Want to learn more about what makes the draft copyright law so bad? Here are some articles

What’s Wrong With the EU’s Filtering Solutions?
Our Freedom of Speech Is Threatened by the European Copyright Proposal
Estonian EU Presidency calls for massive internet filtering

Do you want to do more? Call your MEP for free and share your concerns

Our allies in this battle




Frënn vun der Ënn:

Index on Censorship:

Associazione Antigone:

Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights:

Rights International Spain:

Estonian Human Rights Centre:

Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights:

Hungarian Civil Liberties Union:

The League of Human Rights (LIGA):

Human Rights Monitoring Institute:

The Association for the Defense of Human Rights in Romania – the Helsinki Committee:

D3 - Defesa dos Direitos Digitais:

Bits of Freedom:

JUMEN e.V. - Legal Human Rights Work in Germany

Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT)

Copyright for Creativity C4C

Centrum Cyfrowe

Access Info Europe

Open Media