The Strategist

European Parliament approves new changes in the law on copyright in the Internet

09/13/2018 - 15:48

On September 12, the European Parliament approved changes in European copyright law in the digital industry. MPs believe that the new law will allow content authors to receive a "fair" part of their profits from republishing of their works on social networks and video hosting. In turn, critics believe that Internet platforms can become censors, removing even excepts from works, songs and films that are placed by ordinary Internet users.

438 MEPs voted for the new version of the EU copyright law; 226 were against. Discussion of changes in the EU copyright law has been going on for more than two years. During this time, its supporters (film companies, publishing houses, newspapers and magazines, many musicians, including Paul McCartney) and opponents - advocates of Internet users (founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales, etc.) expressed their opinion about the changes. The amendments to the law have been changed several times, taking into account public discussion. The last time the European Parliament considered the amendments in July and voted against, sending the bill for revision. This time the Europeans considered that all mistakes were successfully amended and approved the bill.

The greatest controversy was caused by articles 11 and 13. The first one obliges Internet platforms to pay to content producers, including the media, before it places a link to their material. Critics have already dubbed this provision "tax on Internet links." The latest version of this article of the law relaxed requirements for removal of content by automatic filters, placed with violation of copyright laws. In addition, in the latest version of the law, Internet platforms are given more choice in how to compensate publishers for republishing of their materials. Article 13 imposes the responsibility for ensuring appropriate agreements with content owners on the Internet platform.

Critics of the new law believe that these requirements can lead to a restriction of freedom of speech on the Internet. They are afraid that social networks can start deleting user publications, which contain quotes from works, fragments of films or songs, including Internet memes or congratulations. Last week, representatives of YouTube said that requirements of the law could make it difficult to publish user content on this video hosting.

In turn, many publishing houses, media, musicians, record companies and other rights holders of popular content in the network supported the law, including the Federation of European Film Directors, the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe, etc.

The European Parliament assures that the new law will not lead to restriction of freedom of speech, creativity and self-expression on the Internet.
It is stated that users can freely and free share or publish links to works, as well as "single words" from these works. Developers of the bill separately emphasize that the law will not affect such resources as Wikipedia and other open-source-platforms.

At the same time, the latest version of the text strengthens the rights of authors and performers, giving them the opportunity to "demand" additional contributions from individuals and parties exploiting their content. This especially applies to cases where the deductions received are "clearly not comparable" to the benefits that the Internet platform or the other party using this content receives. The text of the bill also indicates that rights holders can cancel or change the agreement on the use of their products if they consider that the existing agreement is not being executed or is not fully implemented.