EU politicians finalise new copyright rules that could transform the internet

'Article 11' and 'article 13' have been accused of being a 'meme ban' that could lead YouTube to ban Europeans from uploading videos

Andrew Griffin
Thursday 14 February 2019 10:18
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European Parliament rejects controversial copyright rules of Article 13

The final wording of dramatic and wide-ranging copyright rules that campaigners say could fundamentally alter the way the internet works has been decided, the EU has announced.

The new regime has been accused of forcing companies to “ban memes” as it transforms the way people are able to share information online. Companies such as Google have intensely criticised the rules – with YouTube suggesting it could even have to ban Europeans from uplodaing videos entirely.

Now the final wording has been agreed by the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the Commission, meaning that the regulations are soon likely to be passed.

Two parts of the law, Article 11 and Article 13, have been most contentious since the start of talks to change copyright rules, which critics fear could negatively affect the way music, memes and news articles are shared online.

Among the changes would be new licencing rules making online platforms responsible for content uploaded. According to lead critic, German MEP Julia Reda, this would mean commercial sites and apps will have to preemptively buy licences for anything a user uploads, a move she describes as “an impossible feat”.

Although the directive says it will not impose filters, Ms Reda says that sites will have no choice but to implement them to prevent anything that goes against the new law from making it online.

“The history of this law is a shameful one,” she said on her blog.

“From the very beginning, the purpose of Articles 11 and 13 was never to solve clearly-defined issues in copyright law with well-assessed measures, but to serve powerful special interests, with hardly any concern for the collateral damage caused.”

Vice president for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip welcomed the move, saying: “To finally have modern copyright rules for the whole of EU is a major achievement that was long overdue.

“The negotiations were difficult, but what counts in the end is that we have a fair and balanced result that is fit for a digital Europe: the freedoms and rights enjoyed by internet users today will be enhanced, our creators will be better remunerated for their work, and the internet economy will have clearer rules for operating and thriving.”

The next hurdle in a process that has run for multiple years, is for the agreement to be confirmed by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU in the coming weeks.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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