European Parliament approves new copyright changes which could lead to upload filters

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MEPs will vote on whether to introduce measures to drastically curb tech giants' power over content online. Credit REUTERS

Of the lawmakers, 438 voted in favour while 226 were against, with 39 abstentions. In this case, in the short term there will be only one victor: large [tech] platforms.

The crucial points are two sections of the directive: Article 11 and 13, dubbed the hyperlink tax and the upload filter, respectively.

The scope of Article 13 has been narrowed to platforms that host "significant" amounts of content and "promote" them as well, while the revised Article 11 removes copyright constraints on article links and "individual words" words describing them.

Updated proposals were subsequently tabled and have now been approved by MEPs, meaning the Parliament is now ready to open talks on finalising the reforms with the Council of Ministers, the EU's other law making body.

The vote, backed by French President Emmanuel Macron among others, was welcomed by the European Commission as well as the European Newspaper Publishers Association (ENPA), which counts as one of its members the Swiss Media group, representing over 300 newspapers and magazines in the country.

"Unfortunately, all the concerns by academics, experts and internet users that led to the text being rejected last July still stand".

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European consumer body BEUC also criticised the vote.

Critics say such a law would normalize censorship and restrict Internet freedom, preventing users from being able to post content ranging from memes to links to articles from news outlets.

In brief, the link tax is meant to take power back from giant platforms such as Google and Facebook by requiring them to pay news outlets for the privilege of linking or quoting articles. Today was also a lost opportunity to make Europe a more attractive place for Artificial Intelligence development.

The law will be put to a final vote in January, but it's widely expected to pass. If the Directive passes then, it will be up to individual European Union member countries to decide on how to put it into practice, and that could open up a huge range of adoption and enforcement. United Kingdom businesses will be watching carefully to see whether the Directive is passed before Brexit. After today's positive vote in the European Parliament, the trilogue discussions between the co-legislators will begin soon. "Parliament negotiators should take recognise that is still substantial opposition from MEPs to these proposals".

If it comes down to who I trust on this subject, Sir TIm Berners-Lee who created the WWW "for everyone" or a career politician like Ansip, who's demonstrated his digital shortcomings on many occasions, there's no real choice...

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