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MEPs Vote Against Controversial EU Copyright Directive

Dominique Adams


EU Copyright Directive

The European Parliament has narrowly voted against plans to fast-track proposed reforms to EU copyright law.

By a slim margin of 40 votes, MEPs voted to send the controversial draft – known as the Copyright Directive– back to the drawing board. This means that there will an opportunity to debate and, possibly, re-write the divisive amendments. The debate over the directive will recommence later this year in September.

Articles 11 and 13, were the reforms that caused the bone of contention that caused MEPs to put a halt to the plan with a majority of 318 against, 278 in favour and 31 abstentions. Critics, which include Stephen Fry and Tim Berners-Lee, claim that the plan to include a copyright filter on all uploaded content would put a stranglehold on the internet.

Not only, would it have made it nearly impossible for users to share content legally, it would also have changed how search engines operate. This change would likely result in decreased traffic for smaller websites. While big companies like Google and Facebook have the means and technical capability to operate such advanced filter systems, small business do not. Such a tweak has the potential to cripple smaller organisations and their platforms.

Articles 11 and 13 are a Real Cause for Concern

Critics also highlighted the strong likelihood that by implementing technology, which is still in its infancy, there would be a significant in the number of false positives and much higher costs to larger users.

Article 11 would have created a new rule that would restrict users’ right to quote or even link to other online articles without paying for the freedom to do so. Article 13 would have required content providers to rigorously monitor their sites and to proactively take down copyrighted content or face hefty fines.

Pirate Party MEP, Julia Reda, who campaigned against the directive, tweeted in response to the vote: “Great success: Your protests have worked! The European Parliament has sent the copyright law back to the drawing board.”

Jim Killock executive Director at the Open Rights Group said: “Round one of the Robo-Copyright wars is over. The EU Parliament has recognised that machine censorship of copyright material is not an easy and simple fix.”

“They’ve heard the massive opposition, including Internet blackouts and 750,000 people petitioning them against these proposals. Everyone across Europe who wants this fixed will have to work hard to make sure that Parliament comes up with a sensible way forward by September.”

Supporters Hope for Fair Agreement

Those who supported updating the EU’s Copyright Directive, most notably Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox and David Guetta, say that the directive would ensure that artists, musicians and creators would get fair remuneration for their work.

Over 1,000 musicians said the reform would force platforms such as YouTube and Facebook to use filters that would stop users illegally uploading their music.

Many celebrities, creatives and other media industry professionals came out in support of the reforms asserting that the current rules meant they were being cheated out of money, while websites were making huge profits off their work.

However, Creative Commons Chief Ruan Merkley wryly pointed out that such measures, which the former Beatle full-heartedly supports, would have prevented his band from performing cover versions of other people’s songs.

David El Sayegh, the SACEM Secretary-General, said: “This vote is a setback but it is not the end. We will not be discouraged by today’s decision and will continue to mobilise the support of musicians and music lovers across the world, in the hopes of reaching a fair agreement with these platforms that will safeguard the future of the music industry.”

“We are confident that the European Parliament will eventually support a framework that fully acknowledges the rights of creators in the digital landscape of the 21st century.”

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Dominique Adams

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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