European Parliament reopens debate on controversial copyright directive

6 July 2018

European Parliament reopens debate on controversial copyright directive

The European Parliament voted to reopen debate on the controversial Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market on Thursday, giving Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) more time to debate the directive ahead of another vote in September.

The directive is part of a bundle of proposed legislative measures to harmonise certain aspects of copyright law across the European Union’s member states.

Copyright owners, creators, publishers, record labels, journalists, and their respective representative industry bodies are divided over the directive, while academics, legal scholars, Internet users, and major tech companies have opposed it.

Critics have argued that the directive is an “imminent threat” to the Internet as we know it, claiming that the proposed Article 11 could prevent websites from sharing links without paying for them, and that the proposed Article 13 would impose expensive, impractical and inefficient requirements on websites to enforce copyright laws.

Intended to protect media outlets from having their content used by Internet giants like Google and Facebook without permission, opponents of the directive called Article 11 a “link tax”, fearing that using a sentence fragment to link to other news outlets could be an infringement.

Article 13 would place greater responsibility on websites to assess and filter content for copyright infringement.

YouTube already uses an automated system to do this, but it costs US $60 million, potentially putting this out of reach for startups and community-run websites.

It was also feared that this would spell the end for memes, remixes, and other derivative materials, as copyright filters might not be able to identify legal uses of protected materials, such as uses authorised under fair dealing exceptions.

Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda tweeted that “protests have worked” and called for opponents to “keep up the pressure” to save the Internet.

BPI Music, a representative body of British record labels, supported the directive and tweeted that it intended to “work with MEPs over the next weeks to explain how the proposed directive will benefit not just European creativity, but also Internet users.”