Controversy over Article 13 by European Copyright Regulations

European lawmakers have approved a sweeping overhaul of copyright rules, dealing a blow to major tech companies that argued the changes will be costly and limit free expression.

Copyright overhaul could effectively mandate automated content filtering on major social platforms giving control of copyright claims from owners to social platforms.


The European Parliament voted Tuesday to approve fiercely contested changes that make platforms such as YouTube responsible for copyright infringements committed by their users. Sites like Google News could also be required to pay publishers for using snippets of their content.

The first change to copyright law in the EU in almost two decades is designed to give artists, musicians and publishers a better chance of being paid when their work appears on the internet. The European Parliament voted in favour of the text on Tuesday, clearing the final hurdle for a directive that has been fought over by EU governments, MEPs, tech lobbyists and creatives for three years.
The process to craft the new rules attracted heavy lobbying, especially from Google, which argued that there could be “a profound impact on the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people” if its YouTube video-sharing business was forced to take down videos.

A petition opposing the directive has gathered more than 5m signatures. MEPs have complained of incessant spamming and even death threats.
Supporters of the legislation portray it as a benign overhaul of copyright that will strengthen anti-piracy efforts. Opponents, on the other hand, warn that its most controversial provision, known as Article 13, could force Internet platforms to adopt draconian filtering technologies. The cost to develop filtering technology could be particularly burdensome for smaller companies, critics say.
Online service providers have struggled to balance free speech and piracy for close to two decades. 

Faced with this difficult tradeoff, the authors of Article 13 have taken a different approach, promising stricter copyright enforcement, no wrongful takedowns of legitimate content, and minimal burdens on smaller technology platforms.


The proposal was opposed by tech companies, which warned they would need to build expensive content filters and stop linking to publications. Internet activists argued that the changes would lead to censorship.

On the other side of the two-year battle were record labels, artists and media companies. They said reforms were needed to update copyright protections for the internet age and to ensure they're fairly paid for content.

This is the latest flashpoint between tech giants and European officials, who have taken a much more robust approach than the United States over competition issues, data protection (think GDPR) and tax.

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