European Union lawmakers vote on digital copyright reform


The new version of the rules included hundreds of changes that have been made since the parliament rejected them in July, such as allowing exemptions for the very smallest tech companies.

Lawmakers subsequently beefed up the European Union executive's proposal in favour of Europe's creative industries, prompting a backlash from the tech industry. MEPs regretted, in particular, the effect on global trade caused by high tariff duties that Washington has imposed on aluminum and steel imports, casting into doubt the claim that the import duties were justified on reasons of national security. They say provisions created to prevent streaming and sharing of pirated music and video are far too broad. She said that the parliament "has failed to listen to citizens' and experts' concerns" but that a final vote will take place in January 2019, and that it will be the last chance to do anything about it.

Julia Reda, a pirate party MEP who has actively campaigned against the new measures and said they would be "catastrophic", said that the "upload filters" will mean that legitimate content will be removed from websites accidentally.

Article 13, meanwhile, has received similar ire as it says that all platforms must prevent any copyrighted content from appearing on their site.

Remixing, meme-making, sharing of works in the public domain, and other fair use practices would likely all fall victim to platforms that would rather play it safe, just say no to flagged content, and avoid legal battles.

Some also worry about the cost and reliability of automated filters.

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YouTube already uses Content ID to identify and block copyrighted content, but when these rights are put into the hands of publishers the censorship might become much more severe.

Though we're a long way from a link tax, critics of the new law think the European Parliament's decision sends a strong message: in Europe, free speech might be at risk.

But the Computer and Communications Industry Association said it would "undermine free expression online and access to information".

Supporters argue the rule will safeguard media pluralism in Europe, but major tech companies have lobbied heavily against it. If search engines are required to pay licensing fees for every bit of text, some results will inevitably be removed when a certain publisher proves untraceable, links or outlets are not considered viable enough to contend with, or a publisher refuses to license their content for any reason.

The second key disputed provision was Article 11.