EU Parliament Approves Strong Article 13 Copyright Directive, Will End 'Safe Harbor'

Alfred Osborne
September 14, 2018

Her overall assessment of the vote was blunt: "Today's decision is a severe blow to the free and open internet". Beatles member Paul McCartney recently wrote an open letter to the lawmakers to encourage them to back the new rules, while former Fugees frontman Wyclef Jean has publicly opposed it.

Two of the most controversial pieces of this legislature were Articles 11 & 13.

Article 13 will require certain companies - such as YouTube and Facebook - to stop users from sharing copyrighted material, without a proper licence. The law would make companies responsible for the content published on their sites. This is why Public Knowledge defends a balanced approach to intellectual property to shield the rights of consumers and creators.

The vote in the European Parliament is a major setback for Big Tech, which has already come under pressure from EU regulators over how the industry handles personal data and objectionable content. But if the "link tax" and "upload filter" are enshrined in law, they will have major consequences for the internet in Europe and possibly beyond.

Major tech companies have lobbied heavily against the proposal.

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"The European Parliament just endorsed a #linktax that would make using the title of a news article in a link to it require a license", Julia Reda, MEP for the Pirate Party, posted on Twitter.

Lawmakers subsequently beefed up the European Union executive's proposal in favour of Europe's creative industries, prompting a backlash from the tech industry. In the case of Article 11, they note that attempts to "tax" platforms like Google News for sharing articles have repeatedly failed, and that the system would be ripe to abuse by copyright trolls. The levy was shown to support only larger newspapers, while local publications failed to benefit. "I am convinced that once the dust has settled, the Internet will be as free as it is today, creators and journalists will be earning a fairer share of the revenues generated by their works, and we will be wondering what all the fuss was about".

Others, meanwhile, called the criticism absurd.

The original proposal was rejected in July.

The law will be put to a final vote in January, but it's widely expected to pass. News outlets have been referring to these as "censorship machines,"; others have declared Article 13 as starting a "war on memes" since these filters could easily end up flagging the endlessly-shared, slightly-altered images. She said Wednesday's result was a "step backwards" that could damage Europe's future in artificial intelligence.

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