MEPs approve controversial Copyright Directive

MEPs vote 348 in favour of the law and 274 against of Copyright Directive, leaving intact controversial upload filters clause 

The EU's proposed Copyright Directive has been criticised as one that will kill the internet as we know it
The EU's proposed Copyright Directive has been criticised as one that will kill the internet as we know it

The European Parliament has given final approval to the controversial Copyright Directive, which will update copyright law in Europe for the internet age. 

MEPs voted 348 in favour of the law and 274 against. 

A last-minute proposal to remove the law’s most controversial clause — Article 13 or the ‘upload filter’ — was narrowly rejected by just five votes. 

Advocates of the directive say it will balance the playing field between US tech giants and European content creators, giving copyright holders more power over how big internet platforms distribute their content. But critics say the law is vague and poorly thought-out, and will end up restricting how content is shared online, stifling innovation and free speech. 

Nationalist MEP Francis Zammit Dimech welcomed the vote, saying he worked to ensure Maltese YouTubers get paid for content they create and share online. “Maltese artists including performers, singers, song writers, musicians, authors and graphic artists will receive a fair remuneration for their work, ensuring that users can continue to enjoy more songs, music and content.” 

Several Maltese artists have spoken about the importance of this reform including tenor Joseph Calleja. “The music industry faces extinction without EU legislation”. 

Maltese artists including The Travellers signed the manifesto for an open and fair internet without censorship, and providing for remuneration to artists. 

“My vote today is about consistency,”Zammit Dimech said. “Last summer during a meeting with artists, I was told by a local artist how he received the meagre payment of €60 over the period of a couple of months. This is unacceptable. How can we expect to promote full time careers in culture and the creative sector with such remuneration?” 

The most controversial clauses of the Copyright Directive — Article 11 or the ‘link tax’ and Article 13 or the ‘upload filter’ — have remained largely intact. 

Article 11 lets publishers charge platforms like Google News when they display snippets of news stories, while Article 13 (renamed Article 17 in the most recent draft of the legislation) gives sites like YouTube new duties to stop users from uploading copyrighted content. 

In both cases, critics say these well-intentioned laws will create trouble. Article 13, they say, will lead to the widespread introduction of “upload filters” that will scan all user content uploaded to sites to remove copyrighted material. The law does not explicitly call for such filters, but critics say it will be an inevitability as sites seek to avoid penalties. 

Experts say any filters introduced will likely be error-prone and ineffective. They also note that given the cost of deploying such filters, the law may have the opposite effect to politicians’ intent — solidifying the dominance of US tech giants over online spaces. 

Tens of thousands of individuals across Europe protested the directive, and more than five million signed a petition calling for Article 13 to be removed from the law. Julia Reda, an MEP for the German Pirate Party who led much opposition to the directive, said it was a “dark day for internet freedom.” 

Europe’s press publishers welcomed MEPs’ adoption the EU Copyright Directive, which they said was crucial for the future of a healthy, independent press sector, a fair digital ecosystem and a content-rich internet.  

Carlo Perrone, President of ENPA (European Newspaper Publishers’ Association) said: “This is an historic vote for Europe’s soul and culture. After more than two years of debate and scrutiny, fairness has prevailed in the form of a copyright reform that will be essential for the future of press publishing and professional journalism. Thanks to this directive, web users are now guaranteed a pluralist and democratic internet in the years to come.”  

Xavier Bouckaert President of EMMA (European Magazine Media Association) said: “This is a vote against content theft. Publishers of all sizes and other creators will now have the right to set terms and conditions for others to re-use their content commercially, as is only fair and appropriate.” 

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