Anti-meme EU copyright law passes first hurdle, final vote in July

A committee of MEPs has voted in favour of criticised changes to European copyright law. With the amendments making it over this first hurdle, the European Parliament will vote on the matter in July. The changes have been criticised with Article 13 threatening memes, remixes and other user-generated content, and Article 11 which will require online platforms to pay a fee to publishers for linking to their news content.

As we’ve seen with other attacks on the free internet, many influential voices have come out against the EU’s amendments to its copyright law. In a joint letter, Internet pioneer Vint Cerf, the inventor of the World Wide Web Tim Berners-Lee, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, co-founder of the Mozilla Project Mitchell Baker, Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle, cryptography expert Bruce Schneier, and net neutrality expert Tim Wu, said:

“By requiring Internet platforms to perform automatic filtering all of the content that their users upload, Article 13 takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet, from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.”

Continuing on the theme of surveillance, Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing said that every EU platform would be obliged to filter content that goes against the laws. He said:

“No filter exists that can even approximate this, and the closest equivalents are mostly run by American companies, meaning that US Big Tech is going to get to spy on everything Europeans post and decide what gets censored and what doesn't.”

Article 11, the change which will see the likes of Facebook and Google pay publishers a fee to link to news content has been dubbed a “link tax” by opponents. While it seems like a good change for small publishers that have seen their incomes eroded away by the likes of Google and Facebook, critics say that the amendment doesn’t clearly define what a link is and could be manipulated by governments to hinder freedom of speech.

As was to be expected, publishers welcomed the vote. The Independent Music Companies Association said that “if you are in the business of distributing music or other creative works, you need a license, clear and simple.”

Leave a comment, which side of the debate do you fall on?

Source: BBC News

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