Warsaw, 3rd July 2018
Polish entrepreneurs against the tax on links and network filtering
Representatives of the largest Polish unions of entrepreneurs and associations representing companies from the modern technology, digital and internet sectors jointly appealed to Polish MEPs that they reject the draft EU Copyright Directive in its current form, which will cause damages, among others, to Polish companies, scientists, and Internet users. They also turned to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki for support in this matter. The Polish Consumer Federation has also voice its concerns over certain draft regulations.
As it was emphasised in the joint letter – signed by the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers, the National Chamber of Commerce, the Union of Digital Technology Employers Lewiatan, Polish Digital Association, Centrum Cyfrowe Foundation and Startup Poland – the adoption of the EU Copyright Directive in its current form will negatively affect the competitiveness of the entire the sector related to modern technologies, which will also impact Polish consumers. “That is why it is in our common interest that the Internet, which plays a fundamental role in the digital economy, remained open and accessible to all. Any attempts to artificially restrict access to content will affect the development of innovation,” it was stressed.
No to link tax
According to entrepreneurs, the idea of introducing provisions on content licencing through the so-called “link tax” in Art. 11 of the Directive is the wrong thing to do. Because, as they argue, publishers are now sufficiently protected by applicable copyright laws. “From German and Spanish experiences, it is clear that from an economic point of view the concept of charging for linking does not make sense and will not bring any income to publishers, but it will lead to closing of access paths to information that are convenient for users, as well as to the ruin of small, local, and specialist publishers who rely on aggregators, social media, and search engines as sources of traffic generating income from advertising,” they explain. And they metaphorically ring the alarm that the right to free competition will also be in question, because provisions in such wording will actually only favour the largest of publishers. “The future of smaller publishing houses and journalistic initiatives or start-ups, which will not be able to obtain all the licences – from large publishers – necessary to exist on the market will be threatened,” emphasised the signatories of the letter.
Not to the obligation to filter content
Also Art. 13 of the Directive, which introduces the obligation to filter the Internet to protect copyright, as well as the legal liability of internet service providers for the content of posting by their users, raises their objections. As they explain, such rules will cause unpredictable consequences and damages for innovative undertakings functioning on the Web as well as the entire e-commerce market. Internet service providers will be obliged to introduce special filters in order to avoid the possible consequences for possible infringement of copyright. This would not only affect the smallest entities again, but it is contrary to the Charter of Fundamental Rights, as it hinders the operation of one’s own business, as well as restricts freedom of speech of consumers themselves. “It can be assumed in advance that excessive caution of publishers would even result in censorship. This is contrary to the values of the European Union, which was to be open to citizens and whose one of the basic assumptions was the development of an information society and the competitiveness of European industry and culture,” it was cited in the letter.
No to data flow limits
The proposed form of copyright in the Digital Single Market in accordance with the provisions of Art. 3 of the draft Directive, according to entrepreneurs, will threaten to block progress in the field of data flow and use of data (text and data mining; TDM). “The introduction of an exception to the free practice of TDM only for some researchers, in particular, will hit Poland, which is the country of choice for international concerns to locate their R&D centres. We express our concerns that the introduction of new provisions in such a limited form will result in the transfer of these centres from Poland to other countries outside the European Union,” they warned.
The Polish Consumer Federation concerned about the possible limitation of access to information
The Polish Consumer Federation also raises objections to the EU Directive, which expressed its concern in the letter sent to MEPs about the effects of the proposed Directive. And especially resulting from the introduction of provisions of Art. 11 and Art. 13: “We are concerned that the new regulations will significantly limit access to information on the Web, prevent the freedom to share them, which will undermine the foundations of a modern information society,” stated the Consumer Federation and appealed to Polish representatives in the European Parliament for a deliberate decision in the vote over the Directive.