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New Link Tax! What It Is And What It Could Mean

Currently, there is a lot of buzz surrounding the European Union’s new Copyright Directive, specifically Article 11. The article describes a “link Tax”. A link tax would force some of the internet’s most prominent companies to pay for linking to press articles. The EU’s plan to enforce this would mean news publishers would not be able to waive the fee even if they choose to.  The amendment would make link tax an inalienable right. Big companies often will use a headline, picture, and short excerpt and post the article giving credit to the original author and publisher. Under the new EU law, doing this would require a license.

According to www.eff.org, article 11 is very poorly drafted and it is hard to figure out what the article bans and what it permits. This ambiguity combined with strict guidelines are both good and bad. Internet giants such as Google are already stating that a link tax may result in their European news outlets to shut down. On the other side, European news companies have supported the article, and promote the idea that internet giants do not offer a fair return for this usage.

Previously a link tax was proposed in Germany, but the major newspaper companies simply granted Google a free license to use their works. A boycott from Google would be bad for local news outlets. Spain also created their own link tax but it resulted in a loss of traffic and money.

We talked to LHS senior Gabby Dever and asked her if she thought it was a good idea and if it would be applicable in the US. ” I never really pondered the idea of a tax on news links. I could see how it would give the original news outlets proper credit and maybe even make them more profitable.” She would go on to say, ” I Don’t think it would work in the US, it would never pass, I think it kinda infringes on speech rights. I also understand that a tax could backfire and cause a loss of readers and profit.”

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