Last week we wrote a critical analysis of Elizabeth Warren's big plan to break up "big tech." As we noted, there was a lot in the plan that was nonsensical, unsupported by the facts or just plain confused. We'll be talking more about some of these ideas a lot over the next few years I imagine (stay tuned), but there was one line in Warren's plan that deserved a separate post: it appears that a part of Warren's big attack on big tech... is to give a massive handout to Hollywood. Here's the line:
We must help America’s content creators — from local newspapers and national magazines to comedians and musicians — keep more of the value their content generates, rather than seeing it scooped up by companies like Google and Facebook.
That may sound rather basic and lacking any details, but what's notable about it is that the language reflects -- almost exactly -- the language used in the EU in support of the absolute worst parts of the EU Copyright Directive (specifically, Article 11 and Article 13). For example, this Q & A page by the Legislative Affairs Committee of the EU Parliament uses quite similar language:
The draft directive intends to oblige giant internet platforms and news aggregators (like YouTube or GoogleNews) to pay content creators (artists/musicians/actors and news houses and their journalists) what they truly owe them;
Why, that sounds quite familiar. Indeed, Warren's announcement even uses "keep more of the value their content generates," which appears to be a reference to the completely made up notion of a "value gap" between what internet platforms make and what they should be paying artists.
It's no secret, of course, that those pushing strongest for Articles 11 and 13 plan to bring them to the US as soon as possible. Indeed, that's why we pointed out that it is quite important for Americans to pay attention to what's happening there -- as it's likely to follow across the Atlantic before too long. The fact that a leading Presidential candidate is already mimicking the language of such controversial European legislation is quite amazing, and suggests a Warren campaign that is very out of touch with what people actually want from their internet.
It's also kind of odd for someone who paints themselves as a "progressive politician" who will stand up "against big business" to be hinting at policies that are obviously designed solely as a wealth transfer mechanism to the giant Hollywood studios, major record labels, and large newspaper publishers. It's difficult to square that position with helping the little guy.
Similarly, one of our big concerns with Articles 11 and 13 is that, by their very nature, they will increase the monopoly issue. They are rules that only make sense if you have a few giant companies on each side negotiating with one another -- rather than a large number of competitors, and a wide variety of independent creators. So, it's doubly bizarre that Warren would include this suggestion in her big post about how terrible monopolies are and how she needs to break up big tech. Copyright-directive style proposals won't do that. They'll simply reinforce the dominant position of the big companies by making it nearly impossible for startups to even enter the market.