What is Article 13 and why is it controversial?

After several revisions, MEPs have now announced that the new copyright laws – or Article 13 – have now been approved. This means that, going forward, tech firms will be responsible for any online content that’s posted without the right copyright permission.

The current legislation was backed by 348 MEPs to 274 this week, which means it will now be up to member states to approve it. If approved, they will then have two years to implement the legislation.

What is the legislation?

The legislation is a major change to the way content is regulated online. In simple terms, the changes are:

Article 11

The first piece of legislation is Article 11. This states that news platforms should, going forward, pay for any links from news websites.

Article 13

Article 13 is the more controversial of the two pieces of legislation. It states that large tech firms are responsible for any material that’s posted without a copyright licence. Under the new laws, they will be liable for all content on its site.

This means that they will need to apply filters to new content. This doesn’t include cloud services. There is also an exemption for memes and GIFs.

Why is the legislation controversial?

Copyright is the legal right that allows artists to protect their original work and be in control of how it’s used.

Article 13 has been welcomed by many in the creative industries, as they say it means that artists, authors, journalists, and other online creatives will be protected and  compensated fairly for their work.

However, the legislation has been controversial, as some people in the industry believe it will become a “tool for surveillance” and will destroy the benefits of user generated content.

Tech companies have also argued that, at the moment, artists and writers are already paid fairly for their work. Google has warned that it might “harm Europe’s creative and digital industries”.

Tech companies have argued that artists are already paid fairly under the current system. Google said it would “harm Europe’s creative and digital industries”.

Last year, some of the biggest names on the internet signed an open letter, warning that the legislation would be “an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users”.

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