European Union copyright law may force tech giants to pay billions to publishers

View of the European Parliament Building in Strasbourg

The creation of a new neighbouring right for press publishers will make sharing news articles online more difficult, making it harder for the public to find good quality journalism online.

Another key part, Article 13, would force internet companies to use "upload filters" to ensure content placed online does not fall foul of copyright rules. "I am relieved", said German MEP Axel Voss who tabled the law, which now goes for negotiation with the European Union member states. Users and certain technology providers are less enthusiastic, in particular about the feared negative impact of the Directive on internet freedom.

It's safe to say the vote hasn't gone down too well. The rules will now progress through the rest of the legislative process, which will include a final vote in January, which is likely to see the rules passed.

"Today's decision is a bitter setback for the free and open internet, favoring company profits over the principles that enabled the internet to become what it is today, said Julia Rede, a politician for Germany's Pirate Party".

While YouTube already filters content via audio, allowing users to demonetise their content or take it down entirely, Article 13 would require the platform to begin sweeping imagery within the video before it's available for public viewing. "Perfectly legal content like parodies and memes will be caught in the crosshairs".

The cost of developing the filters would be substantial.

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YouTube, which is owned by Google, has campaigned against the new law.

"We are grateful to the members of the European Parliament who stood up for the creative community, since this now opens the way for a Copyright Directive that can close the value gap and boost investment into new British music and other new content".

Article 11 is meant to give publishers and papers a way to make money when companies like Google link to their stories, allowing them to demand paid licenses.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association, the major tech lobby, said MEPs "ignored the warnings. on the real threats this proposal causes".

Reda described the approval of Article 11 as "catastrophic". If search engines are required to pay licensing fees for every bit of text, some results will inevitably be removed when a certain publisher proves untraceable, links or outlets are not considered viable enough to contend with, or a publisher refuses to license their content for any reason.

Previous efforts to make sure publishers are paid have backfired in Europe.

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