European Parliament rejects EU copyright law proposal

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European Parliament rejects EU copyright law proposal

The draft law was firmly resisted by major U.S. tech giants as well as advocates of Internet freedom.

European Parliament lawmakers on Thursday rejected a highly controversial European Union copyright law proposal that has pitted Beatles legend Paul McCartney against the creators of Wikipedia.

Members of the European Parliament, meeting in the eastern French city of Strasbourg, voted 318 against the measure, 278 in favour, with 31 abstentions. The draft law was firmly resisted by major U.S. tech giants as well as advocates of Internet freedom.

Resistance has been especially heated to Article 13: the proposal to make online platforms legally liable for copyrighted material put on the web by users.

Major musical labels for changes

Music legend McCartney as well as major music labels and film studios have lobbied politicians urging them to back the changes.

But critics warn the reform will lead to blanket censorship by tech platforms that have become an online hub for creativity, especially Youtube. It would also restrict the usage of memes and remixes by everyday Internet surfers, they say.

Wikipedia went down in at least three countries on Wednesday in protest against the European upcoming Parliament vote.

“The directive will threaten online freedom and would impose new filters, barriers and restrictions to access the web,” Wikipedia Spain said in a statement.

The second disputed aspects to the proposed reform are an effort to boost revenue for hard-up news publishers and a crackdown on non-copyrighted material on tech platforms such as Google-owned Youtube or Facebook.

Major publishers for news media reform

Major publishers, including AFP, have pushed for the news media reform — known as article 11 — seeing it as an urgently needed solution against a backdrop of free online news that has decimated the earnings of traditional media companies.

But U.S. tech giants and Internet freedom activists are against the idea, calling it a “link tax” that will stifle discourse on the Internet.

They also argue it will only benefit well-known news providers to the detriment of independent and start-up news companies.

Thursday’s parliament vote is not final, but only sets out the negotiating position of the Members of the European Parliament.

There then follow negotiations with member-states for a finalised law, which Austria, holder of the EU’s six-month rotating presidency, would like finished by the end of the year.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Daily Report and is published from a The Hindu.)

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