European Parliament passes controversial copyright law

The European Parliament has decided to approve the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive, which includes the controversial Article 11 and Article 13, in its entirety today. The law was backed by 348 MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) and rejected by 278. The EU last updated its copyright laws in 2001; with this update, it hopes to make them better suited to modern conditions.

Under Article 13, technology companies could be held responsible for copyrighted content being unlawfully uploaded to their platforms. It's predicted that to combat this, tech firms will deploy filters in order to stop such content from ever getting onto their platforms in the first place.

Critics of the law say that the consequences of such filters include stifling creativity and that it will lead to the creation of an unequal playing field, with only big firms being able to muster the resources to deploy a filter.

While Article 13 is causing controversy over its need for web filters, Article 11 has been dubbed the link tax and could see news aggregation services shut down in the EU. Under Article 11, firms like Google, that have a news aggregation service, will be required to pay content creators for the use of small snippets of content. Spain already tried something like this several years ago and it led to Google pulling its news service in the country. While publishers see link taxes as a way to gain extra income. if it leads to aggregators being scared off entirely, they could actually be doing more self-inflicted damage.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, in a blog post, said that it is “theoretically possible” for the final text to fail at the European Council meeting later this month but this would require at least one “key country” to change its mind. Activists have been piling on the pressure in Poland and Germany in order to try and get their representatives to change course on the laws but this really is a last-ditch attempt to thwart the bill.

The bill is an EU directive which means that each member state is required to write the rules into their respective national laws. Countries have been given until 2021 to accomplish this, and according to the EFF, some countries may go past this deadline without any repercussions from the EU. With countries implementing the rules at their own pace, the online landscape could get a bit messy for several years. Several websites decided to stop giving EU users access to their content following the implementation of GDPR; we could see similar actions taken in this situation too.

Source: BBC News and EFF

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