Highly Controversial EU Copyright Act Approved by European Parliament’s Legal Committee

Highly Controversial EU Copyright Act Approved by European Parliament’s Legal Committee

One of the most criticized EU bills in recent times, the so-called Copyright Directive which is supposed to protect copyright holders but many fear will “censor” the open Internet, has been passed by the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament.

The EP’s Legal Affairs Committee, known as JURI, voted on June 20, 2018, on a draft bill updating copyright rules in the European Union.

One of the most controversial provisions of the new Copyright Directive is Article 13, which would require Internet platforms such as Google and Microsoft to install filters to guarantee authors, artists and journalists are “paid fairly” for the content they create, The Guardian reports.

However, critics are fearful that the new legislation is going to curb substantially the freedom to share on the Internet, with memes being one unexpected victim.

Article 13 has now been approved by the JURI members with 15 votes in favor and 10 votes against.

Another highly controversial provision of the EU’s new draft Copyright Directive is Article 11, described by The Verge as a “Link Tax” since it requires that platforms such as Facebook and Google purchase licenses from publishers before linking to their stories.

This provision is seen as contradicting two precedents set by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, the EU’s highest judicial body, which ruled back in 2016 that linking to copyrighted materials did not constitute a copyright infringement. Earlier, in 2012, it decided that sites should not be forced to run content filters to check for privacy.

The controversial provisions of the new EU Copyright Directive were criticized earlier in June in an open letter by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a NGO based in San Francisco, California. The draft bill has been widely criticized by academics, businesspeople, and even the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee.

“By requiring Internet platforms to perform automatic filtering of all of the content that their users upload, Article 13 takes an unprecedented step toward the transformation of the internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users,” the EFF has declared.

“The damage that this may do to the free and open internet as we know it is hard to predict, but in our opinions could be substantial,” it added.

In order to officially become EU law, the amended Copyright Directive needs to be approved by the governments of all 28 EU member states at the European Council.

However, critics fear that even it is adopted only by the European Parliament and ultimately rejected by the European Council, the EU bill might still serve as a model for legislation in the U.S. which might implement a certain degree of “Internet censorship”.

(Banner image: Pixabay)

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