The Enigma of Article 13

In the Smoky Drinky Bar last night, RdM was expressing some doubt over whether the EU really was proposing a ‘link tax’, as I reported yesterday. He couldn’t find one in the relevant EU publication.

Having read in Breitbart (and elsewhere) that Article 13 was the particular bone of contention (Breitbart provides a link to it), I went looking for it in the text. And this is what I discovered (my emphases added):

Article 13

Use of protected content by information society service providers storing and giving access to large amounts of works and other subject-matter uploaded by their users

1.Information society service providers that store and provide to the public access to large amounts of works or other subject-matter uploaded by their users shall, in cooperation with rightholders, take measures to ensure the functioning of agreements concluded with rightholders for the use of their works or other subject-matter or to prevent the availability on their services of works or other subject-matter identified by rightholders through the cooperation with the service providers. Those measures, such as the use of effective content recognition technologies, shall be appropriate and proportionate. The service providers shall provide rightholders with adequate information on the functioning and the deployment of the measures, as well as, when relevant, adequate reporting on the recognition and use of the works and other subject-matter.

2.Member States shall ensure that the service providers referred to in paragraph 1 put in place complaints and redress mechanisms that are available to users in case of disputes over the application of the measures referred to in paragraph 1.

3.Member States shall facilitate, where appropriate, the cooperation between the information society service providers and rightholders through stakeholder dialogues to define best practices, such as appropriate and proportionate content recognition technologies, taking into account, among others, the nature of the services, the availability of the technologies and their effectiveness in light of technological developments.

Is this the correct Article 13? Maybe it’s another Article 13?

All I can say about the Article 13 above is that I haven’t a clue what it means, or whether it means anything at all.

What is a “rightholder”? I suppose it’s someone who’s Got Rights, or who thinks he’s Got Rights, or who should’ve Got Rights a long time ago but never did.

I’m not a believer in Rights. I don’t think I’ve got a Right to smoke wherever I like. It’s just that I think you’ve got No Right to stop me doing so. And in telling you that you’ve got No Rights, I’m denying the existence of Rights.

I think Rights are a bit like secondhand tobacco smoke, or carbon dioxide. They have been pumped up to be something far more important than they actually are.

The word “rightholder” makes its appearance on the very first page of this 13,585 word document, and appears another 70 times further on. It has a little brother or sister that’s called a “stakeholder”, which appears 21 times in the text. Neither are accompanied by definitions. Since there are 96 assorted “holders” in the document, and 71 of them are rightholders and 21 stakeholders, I have deduced that there must be 4 other kinds of “holders” somewhere in the text. Careful detective work has revealed that there is also two “shareholders”, one “holder”, and a “right holder”. Is a “right holder” the same as a “rightholder”? Or is a “right holder” the right person to be holding on to something?

And that’s another meaning of the word “right”: correct, true. The right value of the sum of 2 plus 2 is 4. It’s also the correct value. Or the true value. Is “right” of this sort related etymologically to “rights”? Do I have a true right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

I must say that these two holders – rightholders and stakeholders – both conjure up in my mind the image of people holding up rights and stakes. And the rightholders are just people holding up their right hands or arms. And the stakeholders are people who are holding up stakes. And the stakes are made of wood, with sharpened ends, very often covered in blood. Although in this case, I may be confusing them with steakholders, holding up their bloody, half-cooked steaks.

Interestingly, and enigmatically, the final mentions of “rightholders” come in Article 13. And a “stakeholder” gets the very last, and 96th, word. And 96 is, according to Wikipedia:

a number that, when turned upside down, is still itself.

Which may explain a lot.

It’s a problem I confess to having with almost all law. It’s all written in Legalese, which is a language which looks a bit like English, but is actually a completely different language that lawyers learn (or are tort) at Law school. Some people study French, and some people German, but other people study Law. And Law or Legalese is the language that is spoken in courts of law. If you can’t speak Law or Legalese, you’ll get nowhere in a court of law. And this is why everyone needs to hire lawyers who can speak the language when they take matters to a court of law. If they don’t, they’ll be laughed out of court. It’s also why the study of law (in the UK at least) takes all of 5 years. You’re learning an arcane new language, which may as well be Urdu or Aramaic.

Anyway, I can’t speak Legalese. For all I know, when it’s been decoded, Article 13 may well prove to be saying: “Listen, sonny. If you don’t cough up when you link to stuff Friends Of Ours™ own, you’re going to find yourself swimming with the fishes with concrete boots on.

About Frank Davis

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12 Responses to The Enigma of Article 13

  1. Bill says:

    There are no rights just privileges given to or withdrawn from one group by another. Or as George Carlin said “An idea, a cute idea but just an idea.”

  2. wobbler2012 says:

    It would have been totally unworkable too Frank, it’s batshit crazy (who would police it??)

    Just another zany idea from the utter morons in Brussels, I can’t wait to get out (if we ever do that is.)

    • simplex says:

      >who would police it??
      AI, I guess. Same as how YT is being ‘governed’ atm.

    • smokingscot says:

      Took them long enough to put an end to that business of dumping surplus fish catches back into the sea.

      And that carbon tax on aircraft flying over the EU. They tried to charge non EU airlines who in turn gave them a great big V sign.

  3. petesquiz says:

    I think that ‘rightholder’ is a catch-all term for people who have the copyright (for example) for an article, a photo, a video, artwork, etc. I think that the whole idea of this is to stop people like you or me from linking to someone else’s work without their permission, which may (or may not) involve a fee in the future to adequately compensate the ‘rightholder’.
    I also think that it is unworkable, but when has that ever stopped the EU.
    Not really sure who or what a stakeholder is in this context, though!

  4. Rose says:

    I regularly come up against this on the MorningAdvertiser when linking to old articles first published in the Publican
    They don’t say you can’t do it, but they do tell you how to do it in a way they will accept, so you can read it, just not copy it out.

    Here’s the notice, which the website did let me copy in full.

    This content is copyright protected

    However, if you would like to share the information in this article, you may use the headline, summary and link below:

    Pete Robinson: The British Pub – A thesis on it’s decline and fall


    For 450 years British pubs and their smoking customers have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship that has survived essentially unchanged…

    Which is a bit annoying if you want to quote a specific section but copeable with.

    Itt might be something like that.

  5. Ripper says:

    The rights holder is the copyright holder – or in other words, the creator of the music or art or whatever. The stakeholder is the person who may have funded or partially funded the work.

    Article 13 concerns copyrighted content in media. Its article 11 that you want concerning the web links.

  6. waltc says:

    Exactly,.This sounds like an anti-pirating law, applicable to pirates who, w/o permission, publish whole books (or “large amounts” thereof) and offer them for free downloads. The rights holder is the copyright holder and the stakeholder is likely to be the publisher though technically I guess could also be any store that legitimately sells the book (song/ artwork). In the US when you find your stuff has been pirated, you file a DMCA complaint form with the pirate’s site and his host and with google for listing the page and then get a runaround for months from them all and then when (if ever) the offering page is finally taken down and delisted, the bastards pop up again under a new website name. They’re mostly untouchable because they operate out of Hong Kong, Panama, Lithuania, etc. IOW this law is likely unenforceable. The perps can’t be caught and won’t pay any fines. OTOH, merely linking to the copyright holder’s web or fb page or to eg, the Amazon page where it’s sold would be an advantage to the creator.

  7. Clicky says:

  8. beobrigitte says:

    I must admit that I have ben rather busy the last week or so, so I may have missed some vital points.
    Quite frankly, I don’t understand the fuzz about this law as it is so easy to get around it: you just leave an obvious space in the “https” and there is no link and people still can get pointed to what exactly is meant for them to see (*skinflint-mode-switched-on*) without having to cough up.
    What concerns me more is the fact that this law nudges people into no longer sharing (for them relevant or irrelevant) information. What is wrong with people communicating?

    • Barry Homan says:

      What’s wrong with people communicating? It makes them harder to control, that’s what wrong.

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