EU Copyright Directive rejected by European Parliament

The proposed changes to the EU’s copyright laws have been met with mixed reactions. There’s been debate between internet giants, who believe the laws would infringe on their freedom; and content creators, who say websites have been exploiting their content for years. Now, despite a number of high profile musicians urging for the law to be approved, it’s been rejected by the European Parliament.

The rules would have put greater responsibility on websites to check for copyright issues, as well as forcing platforms to pay for linking to news. Opponents to the proposals, which included both civil liberties groups and companies like Google and Microsoft, argue that it would damage the freedom of expression and creativity used on internet platforms.

The proposal was supported by a number of celebrities including Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox, Placido Domingo and David Guetta and around 1300 other musicians. They say that sites like YouTube and Facebook should have to use filters as currently users are able to illegally upload their music – resulting in them being cheated out of profits.

However, it has been branded a “link tax” by many opponents and the proposed law was controversial from the start. It was feared that by forcing platforms to strictly enforce copyright laws, it would mean that going forward, any website using text, images, sounds or code would need to find a way to assess and filter its content. Although this could be done using an automated system, filters would effectively ban a lot of material including remixes and memes.

Critics argue that it would stifle creativity. It would mean artists would be prevented from uploading covers. It would also mean that many users of social media  and blog sites would have content removed at the point of upload including text, music and videos. Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales commented: “Don’t think about filtering everything everyone uploads to the internet. That’s a pipe dream but you are never going to get that.”


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