EU approves controversial copyright laws

EU approves controversial copyright laws
© Greg Nash

The European Parliament on Wednesday voted to approve controversial intellectual property legislation aimed at updating copyright laws to the benefit of news publishers.

The Copyright Directive is a proposal meant to protect works for its creators.

A number of large technology companies vigorously oppose the measures, but Europe's largest news agencies have called for the law to pass, saying that companies like Google and Facebook have hurt their ad revenues.

“This is a great day for Europe’s creators,” Helen Smith, executive chair of European music body Impala, which represents a number of popular music acts, said to The Guardian. “The parliament has sent a clear message that copyright needs to be modernized to clarify obligations of platforms with regard to the creative works they distribute.”

Critics argue that the measures are bad for businesses.

“It’s bad for creators, for entrepreneurs and for innovators,” Google’s chief business officer, Philipp Schindler, said of the vote, according to Reuters.

The Copyright Directive was previously rejected by members of the European Parliament in the wake of backlash against two of its components: the “link tax” and the “upload filter.”

The link tax was created to give publishers a means to collect money from companies like Google and Facebook. The upload filter targeted copyright violations on platforms like YouTube and Facebook.

Critics of the link tax warned that they could lead to unintended abuse and that similar previous attempts to solve such issues have failed.

Opponents of the upload filter, which include Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, warned the proposal would force platforms to preemptively try to stop users from uploading copyrighted content, potentially stifling small startups that don’t have the means to do this and serving as a possible tool of censorship.

Proponents of the measures say that they’ll serve as a useful tool against massive technology companies whose current business models they believe are hurting some companies and industries.

Now the European Commission and the 28 EU member countries will negotiate on the measures before a final vote takes place, which is expected to happen next year.