“Link tax” danger to free linking

Free linking to publicly available content using snippets is fundamental to how the Internet is used today. The right to cite and link has become an essential part of how we communicate online.

A new proposal by the EU could allow publishers to – or even oblige them to – charge for the reproduction of short extracts or snippets of their web content. We’re talking about the kinds of snippets people post every day on Twitter and Facebook, quote in their blogs, and that make up the headlines that you see here on NewsNow every day.

On the face of it, you might think that this would be a good thing for publishers. Yet because links can’t function effectively without snippets, some are calling this a ‘link tax’ and we're highly concerned that this would have a serious and damaging impact on publishers, all sorts of other online services, and their users - which means you!

The EU is consulting now on what it calls these new ‘neighbouring rights’. This is legal terminology, and although the consultation is unclear about exactly what these new rights might entail, a recent statement by the EU Commission does indicate it is seeking to extend across the EU a link tax similar to those introduced in Spain and Germany, which were widely regarded as a disaster for publishers and for users.

Free linking to publicly available content using snippets is fundamental to how the internet is used today. The right to cite and link has become an essential part of how we communicate online.

We asked our users, publishers, and others to respond to the EU consultation and make their views heard.

Our position

To learn more about our concerns and arguments against the introduction of a new ‘neighbouring right’ of this sort, please read our Position Statement.

Publishers’ views

We asked publishers for their views on the proposed EU Directive on Copyright in the Single Market, and produced a Common Position Statement, which we invited them to sign. A large number of them chose to do so - see here for more details.

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