Controversial changes to copyright law have been adopted by the European Parliament.
MEPs yesterday voted by 348 to 274 in favour of the latest amended version of the Copyright Directive, which its supporters say will mean that creators of original works are better compensated when their work is posted online, but critics claim will result in unseen censorship of internet content.
The main issues concern articles 11 and 13. Article 11 states that search engines and news aggregate platforms should pay to use links from news websites; article 13 will make larger online platforms liable if material is posted without a copyright licence. As a result they will require to filter content before it is uploaded, which many fear will result in them deciding what should be blocked without any process of accountability. It is also unclear what enforcement mechanisms will be applied.
An exemption has been included for memes and gifs, which adapt copyrighted scenes often for purposes of parody, alongside a wider exemption for parody, but there are still concerns for the future of user-generated content. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the internet, has spoken of "an imminent threat to the future of this global network".
Although Google has claimed that the measure will harm Europe's creative and digital industries, and that uncertainty still surrounds the amended directive, critics argue that dominant companies such as Google will be best able to put the necessary technical measures in place.
Musicians including Sir Paul McCartney and Debbie Harry support the new law, which European Parliament rapporteur Axel Voss described as "an important step towards correcting a situation which has allowed a few companies to earn huge sums of money without properly remunerating the thousands of creatives and journalists whose work they depend on".
EU would have two years to implement the directive once it is finally adopted and published.