Sunday

15th Dec 2019

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join 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.

EU warned over fast-tracking facial recognition

A new report of the European Agency for Fundamental Rights calls for "a clear legal framework" to regulate facial recognition technologies, saying that collecting facial images of individuals without their consent can harm people's dignity.

AI skewed to young, male, and western EU, report warns

A new study reveals the current market ecosystem for artificial intelligence (AI) in Europe is uneven across both gender and demographic lines - raising new demographic concerns for the incoming AI legislation of the new commission.

Investigation

MEPs slam Commission over common charger delay

Citing an EUobserver investigation, MEPs on the consumer protection committee have slammed the EU Commission for allowing Apple to get away with refusing to comply with a common smartphone charger for over a decade.

News in Brief

  1. EU Scream podcast wins media award
  2. Sturgeon will set out Scottish independence plan next week
  3. Slovenia, Croatia ex-leaders highlight jailed Catalans
  4. Italian court tells Facebook to reopen fascist party's account
  5. EU extends sanctions on Russia until mid-2020
  6. UK exit poll gives Johnson majority of 86
  7. Orban: 'financial guarantees' to reach climate neutrality
  8. Merkel hopes EU leaders agree 2050 climate-neutrality

Germany adopts blockchain strategy and says no to Libra

The German federal government has passed a blockchain strategy designed to unlock the potential of this new technology, in both Germany and Europe, and prevent the risks associated with its implementation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. EU values face scrutiny This WEEK
  2. EU sighs relief after 'decisive' Johnson victory in UK
  3. Huge win for Conservatives in UK election
  4. Behind bars: a visit to an imprisoned Catalan politician
  5. Leaders agree 2050 climate neutrality - without Poland
  6. EU leaders cagey on 'Future of Europe' conference
  7. Pressure mounts to grill Malta's Muscat at EU summit
  8. Revealed: little evidence to justify internal border checks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us