EU copyright reforms draw fire from internet luminaries as key vote looms

Alonzo Simpson
June 23, 2018

Article 13 or mandatory upload filtering would require online platforms such as YouTube, GitHub, Instagram and eBay (EBAY.O) to install filters to prevent users from uploading copyrighted materials or seek licenses to display content.

In order for the changes to pass, the legislation still needs approval from 28 European Union governments in a plenary vote. The latter means online platforms would have to pay publishers if news is published on their platform, and the former could mean taking a wrecking ball to the internet, at least according to critics. However, most other companies are then totally fucked, because they simply can not comply in any reasonable manner. The EU's regional tech success stories - say, a successful Czech search competitor to Google - don't have $60-100,000,000 lying around to build out their filters, and lack the leverage to extract favorable linking licenses from news sites.

The law would essentially mean a few tech companies in the USA censoring the internet. The vote comes after widespread criticism of these measures and against the advice of civil society, of leading academics and universities, of research institutions, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression and even the inventors of the internet and of the world wide web.

More rifts have opened up in the European Parliament's negotiations over a contentious copyright law overhaul after a new MEP stepped in to lead on talks. Big tech companies aren't paying creators fairly, she added.

For copyrighted works, services like Google's YouTube already use technology that scans and identifies protected content that's uploaded. Under the new rules, companies like Twitter, Facebook and Google would need to get permission and possibly pay to use these previews. Copyright owners can then either have the material taken down or choose to make money from it by running ads and sharing revenue with the user. Victor Finn, CEO of IMRO, said: "This vote is the welcome result of a sustained campaign by IMRO and our European counterparts to ask the political system in Ireland and beyond to value creativity and the arts as much as technology".

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The US says China is in agreement on that point, although Chinese officials say sanctions should not be an end in themselves. He went on to say the pair had "great chemistry" and remains optimistic about a future relationship.

"If we do the right things, we put in place our content ID systems and things like that, I don't think you need to regulate", Richard Allan, vice president for policy solutions at Facebook, told the parliament on Wednesday. Memes, for example, are a large part of internet culture, but are often based on copyrighted material.

First proposed in 2016, the proposals still have a few more hurdles to pass before they can be implemented.

Member states in May backed the commission proposal with some amendments, including lowering the duration of the publishers' legal rights to one year from 20.

JURI members today backed the publishers' neighbouring right, bringing cheers from the European Publishers Council, European Magazine Media Association, European Newspaper Publishers' Association and News Media Europe.

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