Open letter to MEPs: Article 13 of the Copyright Directive

The latest threat to both freedom of expression and the neutrality of the Internet is the proposed European ‘Copyright Directive’, and in particular, Article 13.

Much has been written on the dangers of Article 13, so I won’t repeat it here. Needless to say, if implemented, there would be serious consequences for how we interact online. It would be far easier for people to have content taken down from the Internet, or to prevent you from posting certain things, even if they have no real legal justification for doing so. In other words, you’d better get used to seeing this:

Facebook Link Blocked

You can (and should) write to your MEP to express concerns about the upcoming law. You can do so using sites such as, but I didn’t think their template letter or MEP search was particularly good, so I wrote my own. Feel free to modify and use the below language. You can find and contact your MEPs using


  • David Martin MEP
  • David Coburn MEP
  • Catherine Stihler MEP
  • Nosheena Mobarik MEP
  • Ian Hudghton MEP
  • Alyn Smith MEP

Thursday 21 June 2018

Stephen McLeod Blythe
[address redacted]

Dear Catherine Stihler, Alyn Smith, Ian Hudghton, Nosheena Mobarik, David Martin and David Coburn,

I am a legal academic and digital rights advocate from Glasgow, Scotland. I write with respect to the so-called ‘Copyright Directive’, and ask that you stand up against the proposal.

My main area of concern regarding the proposed Directive lies in Article 13. While it does not specifically impose a requirement on intermediaries to introduce pre-screening mechanisms, the language does explicitly refer to ‘the use of effective content recognition technologies’. As a result, this approach is clearly seen as an appropriate norm.

There are many problems with content recognition technologies, which I will not waste your time with by reciting in full. However, the bottom line is that they are expensive to implement; ineffective; easily defeated; frequently mis-identify content; and do not understand context, or the concept of ‘fair use’. In my work I already see significant abuse of copyright laws by complainants who wish to silence critics, and any kind of automated system will simply compound this problem.

Should Article 13 go ahead unchanged, intermediaries will inevitably adopt ‘dumb’ filtering systems in order to reduce their liability, and the result will be a significant chilling effect on both freedom of expression, and free enterprise. The consequences will impact heavily both on individual rights, and the economy.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen McLeod Blythe LLB. LLM.