Today the European Parliament has voted in favor of the Copyright Directive, the controversial piece of legislation intended to update online copyright laws for the internet age.
When we last reported in the progress of this legislation through the European Parliament welcomed an interim success, in that the directive was referred for further scrutiny and debate of the proposals.
This time, however, the vote was a clear majority for the so-called “reforms”, which could have drastic consequences.
Julia Reda, the MEP who opposed the legislation and spearheaded the #SaveYourInternet campaign tweeted the result (438 for the motion versus 226 against it with 39 abstentions) and presented the breakdown of the vote:
This shows a clear political divide with the right wing Conservative faction giving the proposal its overwhelming support.
Describing the outcome as “catastrophic”, she recorded her reaction to the vote as:
a severe blow to the free and open internet.
The most worrying aspects of this legislation is Article 13 which, as we outlined in detail in Save Code Share and in Why Article 13 Must Be Stopped, is a clause that asks for Upload Filters on sites that accept uploads from users and threatens a wide range of activities including code sharing and discussion platforms. This infographic appeared on Save Your Internet, and also on this site, earlier this year:
Could posting this graphic now be interpreted as contravening the law? It is currently something of a grey area.
Article 11, the so-called link tax, is possibly more worrying as means that giving a link to a news item would require a licence. While we approve the intention – to allow publishers to receive payment when their work is regurgitated by companies like Google who profit at the expense of the originators – it could spell the end of the sort of news analysis and comment we, and many other shoestring operations, engage in. Even though there is nothing exploitative in our approach, over-zealous policing of this clause could be crippling and it is obviously open to abuse by copyright trolls.
Sharing a link with an original explanatory comment or is nothing but welcome free advertising for the original work and it has been the basis of the web since it started.
The Copyright Directive has to receive final approval by the European Parliament in January, but in view of the size of the majority there seems little prospect that it won’t happen.
We all need to prepare.