European Union takes first step towards passing controversial copyright law

European Union takes first step towards passing controversial copyright law

With companies now required to screen content for copyright infringement, it's possible that smaller sites will be unable to pay enough staff to police the images, text, and video being routinely shared by its users. The law can only take effect after it is agreed in three-way talks between MEPs, national governments and the Commission.

In March, the European Union issued new guidelines, giving internet companies an hour to wipe Islamic State videos and other terror content from their services. Amendments to the rules include the length of publisher's right to content; parliament passed a rights period of five years, down from the original duration of 20 years.

Article 13 would require all platforms to use filters, so that companies such as Google LLC or Facebook Inc. can prevent users of these platforms from uploading copyrighted materials.

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They voted to approve the controversial Article 13, which critics warn could put an end to memes, remixes and other user-generated content.

Monique Goyens, director general of the European Consumer Organisation, said "The internet as we know it will change when platforms will need to systematically filter content that users want to upload". Article 13 was reintroduced on "GDPR Day" in May, and today it faced the EU's Legal Affairs Committee.

Article 11, requiring online platforms to pay publishers a fee if they link to their news content, was also approved. Authors and artists, on the other hand, are lobbying for a positive outcome on the final vote, claiming web companies like Google and Facebook gain profit through ads run around their copyrighted material.

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The bill, which will now move to the European Parliament, says its aim is to make it easier for rights holders to license and be remunerated for the online distribution of their work. "And the closest equivalents are mostly run by American companies, meaning that United States big tech is going to get to spy on everything Europeans post and decide what gets censored and what doesn't".

Earlier this month, 70 internet experts - including Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, and Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia - signed an open letter against article 13.

The internet was created because people had the freedom to post nearly anything they wanted online, stated the letter, and if you take that away, freedom of expression will be tied to a ball and chain. "The EU Parliament's duty is to defend citizens from unfair and unjust laws".

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A spokesperson said: "We applaud the rapporteur Axel Voss MEP for his staunch support of our independent, free press and for pressing ahead with a proposal for a right that, if adopted, will amount to a victory for fairness, and formal recognition that commercially freeriding on others' efforts and investments is unacceptable".

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