The European Parliament on Tuesday passed a controversial EU copyright directive, which is intended to give people more control over their copyrighted work on the internet. However, legal experts and the internet at large has criticised the now passed EU copyright directive for threatening the free flow of information on the internet and giving tech companies too much monopoly, amongst many more concerns.
The members of the European Parliament voted 348 in favour of the EU copyright directive and 274 against, 36 members abstained to vote. The entire point of the new directive is to give copyright holders more power over their original work on the internet. However, the directives have received widespread criticism.
Article 11 and Article 17 (previously Article 13) of the new EU copyright directive have received the most amount of criticism. The main concerns for both Articles are that they are too vague and almost impossible to properly comply with.
Article 11 has been called the link tax, which places an obligation on web platforms to get permission in terms of rights or licenses to be able to link to copyrighted work. A similar law was tried and failed in Spain. Google News was pulled from Spain for this reason.
The most controversial part of the directive is Article 17, which is described as the meme ban. According to Article 17, a platform on the internet is required to get permission to post copyrighted works on its platform before the copyrighted work goes live. Currently, platforms are only required to remove copyrighted work they’ve posted if they get hit with copyright takedown requests. Now, platforms will be required to filter content it posts to check whether it has the proper permission to post possibly copyrighted content. The issue is that these filters don’t always work properly, with the platforms then facing possible fines.
Fears over getting fined could cause platforms to severely start limiting the content they allow to be posted. Platforms like Facebook, Google, and YouTube already remove copyrighted content where possible, however, the new directive places a further burden on them to take down content and even pre-filter content before it is posted, which could require users to start having to go through a content screening process before posting content to these platforms. Additionally, smaller platforms that post content might not have the means to set up these required filters, which could negatively affect their businesses. Also, this severely affects the ability of, for instance, gamers, to post gameplay videos as the content is essentially copyrighted according to this new EU copyright directive.
As it has now been passed, only time will tell how publishers, internet users and copyright holders will interact with the directive and how the internet will be shaped by it. EU member states have two years to become compliant with the directives.
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