European Parliament Rejects Controversial EU Copyright Law, Sends It Back for Review

European Parliament Rejects Controversial EU Copyright Law, Sends It Back for Review

A majority of the Members of the European Parliament have turned down, at least for the time being, the highly controversial new Copyright Directive which critics argue would have “censored the Internet.”

A total of 318 MEPs voted against the draft copyright legislation, 278 supported, and 31 abstained during a vote in Strasbourg, France, AFP reports.

The new EU Copyright Directive bill, which was approved by the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (JURI) earlier this weeek, had the stated purpose of guaranteeing that authors, artists and journalists are “paid fairly” for the content they create.

Yet, critics have warned that it would do major damage to the freedom to share on the Internet, with genres such as memes being one of the most likely victims.

The Copyright Directive would have allow publishers to demand copyright compensations even on minor extracts of reproduced material such as snippets of news articles showing in search results.

This provision has been dubbed by critics a “Link Tax” since it would oblige Facebook, Google, and other online platforms to purchase licenses from publishers before linking to their stories.

The now rejected new EU Copyright Directive would have also obliged online platforms such as YouTube to scan the content users attempt to upload, and block it in case of any suspicion of copyright violations.

The draft EU copyright law has been adamantly opposed by Internet freedom activists and platforms such as Wikipedia, and by a number of leading US tech giants. It has received all-out support from the French MEPs.

“Today’s vote represents a victory for democracy,” Siada El Ramly, head of EDiMA, a lobby representing Google, Facebook and other US tech giants, said after the vote.

“Great success: Your protests have worked! The European Parliament has sent the copyright law back to the drawing board,” tweeted Julia Reda, a Pirate Party MEP.

French MEPs, however, were reported to have been “furious”, with MEP Pervenche Beres declaring that the US tech giants “steal from artists and pay no taxes, have won a battle.”

“We respect the decision… we will work with MEPs over the next weeks to explain how the proposed directive will benefit not just European creativity, but also internet users and the technology sector,” tweeted BPI Music, which represents UK record labels and had supported the bill.

The controversial piece of legislation was backed by a total of 1,300 musicians, including Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox, Placido Domingo, and David Guetta.

Thursday’s vote of the European Parliament has sent the draft EU Copyright Directive back to the Legal Affairs Committee, and the legislation is to be discussed and voted upon again in September 2018.

“Don’t think about filtering everything everyone uploads to the Internet. That’s a pipe dream but you are never going to get that,” Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales told the BBC after the vote.

He said he hope the music industry could find a compromise before the EP debates the bill again in September. In his words, they should try to renegotiate deals with platforms such as YouTube to get “fairer remuneration”.

(Banner image: Pixabay)

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