European Parliament advances new copyright rules

By Daniel Uria

Sept. 12 (UPI) -- The European Union lawmakers voted Wednesday to accept polarizing changes to copyright laws that would force tech platforms to pay media companies more to use their content.

European Parliament voted 438-226, with 39 abstentions, to approve two amended provisions of the plan, which have been embraced by the entertainment industry and opposed by the tech sector, The Guardian reported.


Article 11 would impose a so-called "link tax," requiring sites such as Google and facebook to pay news publishers for sharing excerpts of news articles or linking to them on other sites.

Article 13 would require YouTube and other similar platforms to obtain a license in order to host content such as music videos.

If the law is passed, EU countries would be given up to two years to apply the new rules, which would in turn be enforced by its member countries, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Musical artists have said article 13 could allow them to properly negotiate royalties, as the music industry has long said YouTube pays much less for music videos than what they actually cost.


"This is a great day for Europe's creators," said Helen Smith, executive chair of European music entity IMPALA. "The parliament has sent a clear message that copyright needs to be modernised to clarify obligations of platforms with regard to the creative works they distribute."

A spokesman for the European Publishers Council also said the decision signaled "a great day for the independent press and for democracy," that would spur the creation of new publishing companies and allow journalists to receive more revenue.

Tech companies have fought strongly against the rules and protests delayed the vote for several months.

"Today marks a very sad day for the internet in Europe," said Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox web browser. "The fight is not over yet."

Julia Reda, a member of European Parliament for Germany's Pirate party described the approval of article 11 as "catastrophic."

The proposal will be sent to three-way negotiations with the European commission and the Council of the European Union and face a final vote in the European parliament in January.

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