Tuesday

13th Apr 2021

EU lawmakers pass contentious copyright law

  • Sweeping new laws have been passed on online copyrighted content (Photo: rawpixel.com)

Some two years of heated debate on EU copyright reform on Tuesday (26 March) finally convinced the European Parliament to vote 348 in favour and 274 against.

MEPs in Strasbourg endorsed a bill that, paradoxically, often put US corporate tech giants like Google News, YouTube and Facebook in the same camp as pro-free internet defenders.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The reforms, outlined in an EU directive which still needs to be adopted and placed into national laws over the next two years, sets out sweeping rules on how copyrighted content is posted online.

Article 13 was among the most controversial of the passed measures, and requires anyone sharing copyrighted content to get permission from rights owners or have it removed.

But it was not immediately clear how infringed copyrighted content will be identified and removed - amid fears by detractors that the law could possibly lead to a system of automated censorship.

A proposal to open up the text for amendments was rejected by just five votes.

The bill also requires search engines to pay for displaying snippets of linked news, in a move unsurprisingly welcomed by publishers and media syndicates.

Acrimony surrounding the debate was never far away, and only intensified among the EU lawmakers as the plenary, at one point, descended into a short shouting match.

Julia Reda from Germany's Pirate Party, in a tweet following the vote, described the final tally as "a dark day for internet freedom."

Earlier in the day, she made an impassioned plea for EU lawmakers to reject so-called upload filters that require platforms to scrub copyright content, as stipulated by article 13.

She said anyone endorsing an unamended bill would not only erode internet freedoms but also strip away the trust of all the young people who took to the streets over the weekend to protest against the reforms.

Five-million strong petition

"Five million have signed a petition against upload filters, there has never been such a broad protest against an EU directive," she said.

The UK-based Open Knowledge Foundation, a global non-profit network, said the reforms would also most likely lead to such filters in order to meet the demands of the law.

But Reda's pleas were rebuked by Danish liberal Jens Rohde, who noted that the terms 'upload filters' do not appear anywhere in final text of the bill.

His comments were echoed by EU commissioner for digital policy, Andrus Ansip.

Daniel Caspary, German centre-right MEP, had also taken Reda to task, after she accused him of saying that young people were being paid to protest against the reforms.

Horse-trading, political jockeying, and lobbying, on the bill also appears to have only intensified over the past few months and days.

On Monday, German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine reported that Berlin had even agreed to back such upload filters - on the condition that Paris supports its Nord Stream pipeline of gas from Russia.

EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants

After marathon talks, EU negotiators agree on provisional copyright reform, requiring companies to filter content to prevent unauthorized work on their platform. Online platforms and open-internet advocates warn it will hurt the free flow of information.

'Every group split' ahead of EU copyright vote

Political groups in the European Parliament are split about how to vote for a directive that would reform the EU's copyright regime - amid warnings that freedom of expression and creators' rights are at risk.

'Big Five' tech giants spent €19m lobbying EU in 2020

The increased regulatory scrutiny of tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft has triggered a rise in lobbying activities by these companies in Brussels, and, accordingly, an exponential grow of their budget for these activities.

News in Brief

  1. Putin refuses to talk about military build-up, Ukraine says
  2. EU bank to help Greece manage corona-recovery funds
  3. Johnson & Johnson vaccine deliveries to EU begin
  4. EU sanctions commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard
  5. UK opens investigation into ex-PM Cameron lobbying
  6. 'Significant differences' in EU-UK talks on Northern Ireland
  7. Bulgarian PM reveals price rise in new EU-BioNTech deal
  8. Biden sending envoy to Brussels

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. How the pandemic became an EU goldmine for crime
  2. China responds to 'low-efficacy' vaccine fears
  3. Merkel party chiefs support Laschet's chancellor bid
  4. EU refuses to bail out Montenegro's China loan
  5. Industry lobby to 'co-decide' on nearly €10bn EU public money
  6. Why Ursula von der Leyen won't go
  7. Incorporating gender in trade policy to benefit all
  8. Does Italian regionalism actually work?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us