Letter sent to Member of the European Parliament on behalf of Automattic, Bandcamp, Kickstarter, Medium, Patreon, and Shapeways
September 10, 2018
Dear Honorable Members of the European Parliament,
As Internet platforms committed to creating online spaces where creators can share their content, we understand the importance of ensuring creators are compensated fairly for their work. Current legal frameworks have allowed us to build creative online communities that have enabled musicians, writers, artists, developers, designers, and filmmakers throughout Europe to access a global online market. We are concerned that proposed changes to the European Copyright Directive, specifically Article 13, will threaten the existence of these vibrant online communities and deprive our user-creators of the means to profit from their work. Any reform of copyright laws must consider the impact it will have on small Internet platforms like ours and the creators that depend on us.
Our companies are different from other user-generated content platforms in that our sites are designed to allow creators to upload and share their own creative work rather than content created by others. Users do not come to our platforms to consume and share known third party content—they instead seek out original works made by creators which cannot be found elsewhere. Because our users generally share their own content through our platforms, copyright infringement is uncommon on our sites. As such, requiring sites like ours to deploy expensive content moderation tools will only make it more costly and difficult to run our businesses without any meaningful impact on copyright infringement. Filtering tools do not even exist for many common types of content shared through our sites, such as 3D files or software. And, for the subset of content for which filtering is technically possible, the inaccuracy of many content moderation tools will also result in non-infringing, original content being blocked from view.European creators currently make up a significant part of our user bases, relying on our sites to create and share their work. Article 13 will have a negative impact on the ability of those creators to access new audiences, customers, and supporters. This lack of access will increasingly disadvantage EU users and companies and will have a negative impact on the overall EU creative economy.
Article 13 threatens this vibrant community of creators. Filtering technologies are expensive, limited in the types of content they can identify, and error-prone. The cost of these tools in terms of both economic expense and censored expression makes little sense in light of the minimal copyright infringement on our sites. Larger platforms will be better equipped to bear these costs, giving them an inherent advantage over platforms like ours and cementing their marketplace dominance.
Ultimately, Article 13 will hurt creators in Europe and make it harder for our companies to compete with the dominant incumbents. We ask that you recognize this proposal’s negative impact on EU creators and reconsider imposing an ill-fitting filtering mandate on Internet platforms like ours.