January 25, 2021

European Parliament Rejects Draft Version of Copyright in the Digital Single Market Legislation Proposed by Legal Affairs Committee

From The Verge:

The European Union has rejected controversial legislation intended to reform online copyright. 318 MEPs voted against the draft law, compared to 278 in favor. The legislation now returns to the drawing board, before being sent for a second vote in September.

The draft law, known as the Copyright Directive, was intended as a simple update to copyright for the internet age. But it attracted substantial criticism for the inclusion of two key provisions: Articles 11 and 13. The first, Article 11, was a “link tax” that would force online platforms like Facebook and Google to pay news organizations before linking to their stories; while the second, Article 13, proposed an “upload filter” that would have required all content uploaded online to be checked for copyright infringement.

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From the EU Observer

Two of the internet’s founding fathers, Vint Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee, signed a letter which said the bill posed “an imminent threat” to the future of the internet, saying they agreed with the aim – a fair distribution of revenues from the online use of copyright works – but that the means were wrong.

“By requiring internet platforms to perform automatic filtering all of the content that their users upload, article 13 takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users,” they wrote.

By contrast, musician Paul McCartney voiced his support for the legal text, in an open letter to MEPs.

“The proposed copyright directive and its article 13 would address the value gap and help assure a sustainable future for the music ecosystem and its creators, fans and digital music services alike,” said McCartney.

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The issue will return on the plenary agenda in September.

The full chamber will then be able to debate the bill, before its rapporteur Voss is sent to negotiate with the Council of the EU – which represents national governments – and the European Commission.

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Statement From International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA):

The vote, which followed an intense period of communication from all parties involved in the discussions, focused extensively on two issues – new proposed rights for press publishers, and new obligations on Internet platforms to prevent copyrighted content being uploaded to the Internet without licensing agreements.

On both of these issues, despite efforts to protect libraries and their users from any immediate effects on core services, there remained serious concerns about their impacts on library values and broader free expression and access to information. See IFLA’s briefing on Article 13 and blog on filters in particular for more.

The proposed text also contained dangerous amendments which would have undermined the effectiveness of all new exceptions, and locked away heritage, as set out in our blog on Article 6.

Yet there were positives – a proposed exception allowing libraries to give access to works which are not available on the market, a broader exception on text and data mining, and steps towards giving libraries the possibility to make use of education exceptions.

Now, more than ever, it is important for libraries across Europe to engage their Members of the European Parliament, in support of progress, and against backwards steps. We need to ensure that today’s vote proves to be a step towards better copyright laws for libraries.

Direct to Complete IFLA Statement

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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