Google, Facebook dealt blow by European Union lawmakers in copyright fight

Alfred Osborne
September 14, 2018

In this case, in the short term there will be only one victor: large [tech] platforms.

"In the end, artists, European platforms and small start-ups are left empty-handed". It will be a lose, lose situation. In a session this morning, MEPs approved amended versions of the directive's most controversial provisions: Articles 11 and 13, dubbed by critics as the "link tax" and "upload filter".

Article 11, which critics have dubbed a "link tax", would force news aggregation and search sites such as Google and Facebook to pay publishers for showing news snippets or linking to news stories on other sites.

"This legislation is now better balanced, answering numerous concerns of journalists, publishers and musicians whose work was being shared freely online without stifling innovation or fundamentally changing the nature of the internet", Sajjad Karim, Conservative legal affairs spokesman, said.

Tech companies would have to build filters that prevent users from uploading copyrighted material.

Despite the amendments, some still view the laws as hindering freedom of expression online.

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On the other hand, musician Wyclef Jean was in the European Parliament to fight against the law before the vote. Stefan Winners, head of digital at Burda, a German publisher, said he was proud of the European Union parliamentarians, saying they'd faced a "spam attack on our democracy", in the form of "aggressive lobbying indirectly financed by Google and Facebook".

"We now urge the Council and Parliament to come to a balanced outcome in the final negotiations", said CCIA, which has Google, Facebook and Uber as members.

"Today, MEPs have chose to support the filtering of the internet to the benefit of big businesses in the music and publishing industries despite huge public outcry", said Siada El Ramly, director general of EDiMA, the trade association representing the online platforms.

Far from advancing the European digital economy through the Digital Single Market, the proposals adopted by the European Parliament today will lead to significant additional burdens on companies seeking to serve the European market. If this is limited, free discussion would also be limited, Kamden added. Copyright trolls will likely be able to fraudulently claim ownership of intellectual property with little recourse for their victims.

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.

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