EU Passes Oppressive Copyright Rules That Could Ruin the Web

View of the European Parliament Building in Strasbourg

EU votes to adopt controversial copyright law that could ban memes and 'destroy the internet'

Article 13 will require certain companies - such as YouTube and Facebook - to stop users from sharing copyrighted material, without a proper licence.

However, the reform has been watered down from original proposals.

Jean, a former member of American hip-hop group The Fugees, stands on one side of a fractious debate over internet freedom that has pitched artists and musicians against tech giants and internet activists.

"[It] 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", web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales warned in a June letter to a top European Union official.

The legislation still faces a final vote in January 2019, and individual member states will then have to implement their version of it. The first, Article 11, will require tech companies to pay publishers when their content appears on services such as Google News.

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There have also been achievements in foreign policy, with the European Union establishing itself as a global leader. The proposal still requires approval from the EU's Parliament and member states before it becomes law.

"The European Parliament has introduced the censorship of content of Internet users. We are in favor of a rules-based, multilateral approach and of settling the differences through the WTO, therefore the rule of law has to be accepted, and not the right of might", said worldwide trade committee rapporteur Bernd Lange (Socialists & Democrats, Germany). "Not allowing creators to make a living from their work is the real threat to everyone's digital creativity", they claimed in a blog post. The proposals had been rejected in a vote in July and sent back to the European Commission to be amended.

The problem? Publishers who can afford to charge news aggregators like Facebook and Google lower rates will thrive. And upload filters risk creating uncertainty for users and companies alike. Expect the web to change. But you donĀ“t do it in a way that could kill innovation and limit consumer choice. The tweaks to the proposals that managed to push it through the European Parliament are just that - tweaks.

However, his colleague, Sajjad Karim, said, "Copyright law is at last catching up with the digital age".

"This legislation is now better balanced, answering numerous concerns of journalists, publishers and musicians whose work was being shared freely online without stifling innovation or fundamentally changing the nature of the internet", Sajjad Karim, Conservative legal affairs spokesman, said.

These closed-door discussions, which also include the European Commission, are known in EU jargon as "trilogues".

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