The European Parliament has decided to pass new rules regarding copyright which could see a so-called link tax imposed on big tech firms such as Google and Facebook where they’ll be forced to pay publishers a fee to link to their news content. They also passed a rule that would protect artists’ content from being turned into memes, remixes and other user-generated content. Artists have welcomed the changes but opponents said that the latter rule could lead to companies deploying “crude” upload filters.
Julia Reda, an MEP from the Pirate Party, reported the results of the vote via Twitter. She said the parliament voted for the “link tax” 393:279, while the “upload filters” were passed 366:297. She said that the parliament “has failed to listen to citizens’ and experts’ concerns” but that a final vote will take place in January 2019, and that it will be the last chance to do anything about it.
Axel Voss MEP, who has been steering the law through parliament, is more positive about the measures:
“We have seen so far that many large tech companies have been exploiting works of artists and creators without properly paying them. Therefore we need to establish a fair balance between European right-holders and the online platforms.”
Google, who would be directly affected by the link tax, has come out against the decision saying that it’s bad for creators and innovators. Another tech giant, Mozilla, has also criticised the outcome because of the effect it could have on meme culture. In a statement, it said:
The fight is not over yet. Lawmakers still need to finalise the new rules, and we at Mozilla will do everything we can to achieve a modern reform that safeguards the health of the internet and promotes the rights of users. There’s simply too much at stake not to.
If the law doesn’t get blocked next year, leaders of the EU’s member states will need to sign off on the rule changes before countries have to draft local laws to put today’s decision into effect.