kaitlyn-baker-422999-unsplashThe advance of technology brings new problems that we are forced to grapple with. We're confronted with problems that we're ill-equipped to handle, because our society is forever trying to catch up to the last issue that upended some part of how we live or work or entertain ourselves.

That has certainly been the case for the internet, which has spent the past two decades bringing forth new thorny issues that went largely unforeseen until they hit us directly in the face. The work of tackling these problems has fallen to governments, which are well-versed in reactionary measures in addition to being the bodies that handle these sorts of things. How well governments address these problems is a matter for debate.

The Copyright Directive has passed a vote in the European Parliament and now awaits a final approval in January in order to go into effect. The set of new rules aimed at combating copyright infringement have caused consternation due to two of its provisions, Articles 11 and 13. These respective articles are meant to create a more equitable environment for creators, but critics argue that both measures are subject to potential abuse and could serve to make the issues they are attempting to solve worse by creating a raft of new issues.

As to what each controversial measure does: Article 11 requires large internet companies like Google to pay a tax to publishers for using links and text from published articles. It can be seen as an extension of copyright law, with the tax a license for the use of text created by publishers and websites. But the measure seems to misunderstand the nature of the internet as it exists; links and text serve to help drive clicks and engagement for articles and sites, and any attempt to tax those could just result in the end of any aggregation, which could serve to harm the publishers it's meant to help.

Article 13 requires proactive measures on the part of Facebook and other platforms to prevent the upload of copyrighted material, a goal with likely good intentions but ham-fisted execution and unintended consequences. Filters are highly imperfect, unable to differentiate between fair use and infringement, and offering platforms the ability to preemptively decide what is acceptable and what isn't runs the risk of abuse by the platforms themselves.

While the regulation of the internet and the limitation of power accumulated to its biggest powers is a necessary measure, the laws implemented should serve to ameliorate the problems without creating new ones; the new rules the EU looks set to implement cast doubt as to whether they can pass that bar.

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