Comms teams must be vigilant on Link Tax

The European Commission has tabled a new Copyright Directive to be considered in the European Parliament.

If passed, publishing giants could be able to levy a charge for linking to their content online, targeting news aggregators such as Google News which provides ‘snippets’ of the article with a link to the original web page.

The Public Relations & Communications Association (PRCA) has warned that this could spell difficulty for the marketing industry, as well as reduce the integrity of the open Internet.

Nicholas Dunn-McAfee of the PRCA explains:

If the European Commission succeed, copyright rules will be extended to the little snippets of text that automatically accompany hyperlinks – giving big publishers the right to charge business fees for linking to content. The link tax stifles innovation for new online services – and ensures the dominance of entrenched players.

The directive is hotly opposed, with over 100,000 signatures on, the organisation which provides a platform for opposition to any changes that censor links and radically alter the way the Internet works for everyone.

Simon Francis, Founder Member of Campaign Collective, commented:

This debate shows how fragile the Internet is and how vulnerable our rights to share and consume content are.  We oppose the very notion that linking to content could land you with an unexpected bill.

The very traffic that sites such as publishing giants crave relies on people sharing links, not just on Social Media but exploiting link sharing to improve their SEO. These publishing giants need this site traffic to their articles to demonstrate ROI to advertisers.

A law like this is ill-advised, affecting publishers’ own potential revenue, as well as being the thin end of the internet censorship wedge.

Although the EU has recently offered some conciliatory words on Twitter, campaigners have urged vigilance as the Link Tax looks set to be classified as a ‘neighbourhood rights for publishers’ ancillary tax in future directives.

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