EU Approves Controversial Copyright Directive

Posted on April 15, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Amazon, Apple, Cloud, Google with 20 Comments

Today, the European Union official approved a controversial Copyright Directive that could hobble many big US tech firms in the region.

“Today the Council of the European Union gave its green light to the new Copyright Directive which will bring concrete benefits to citizens, the creative sectors, the press, researchers, educators, and cultural heritage institutions,” a European Commission press release notes. “The reform will adapt copyright rules to today’s world, where music streaming services, video-on-demand platforms, news aggregators and user-uploaded-content platforms have become the main gateways to access creative works and press articles.”

The EU believes that its Copyright Directive will “boost high-quality journalism” and “offer better protection for European authors and performers.” But critics say the new rules go too far by requiring infringing tech firms to onerously police the content users post on their websites and then move quickly to get the proper permissions or remove the content.

19 EU members states supported the rules change, but six— Italy, Finland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden—opposed it. Belgium, Estonia, and Slovenia abstained.

Google, as perhaps the most obvious target of the Copyright Directive, lobbied heavily against it.

“The directive would not help, but rather hold back, Europe’s creative and digital economy,” Google senior vice president Kent Walker wrote previously of the new rules. “This [directive] hurts small and emerging publishers, and limits consumer access to a diversity of news sources.”

The good news? Nothing moves quickly in the EU. The new rules were first proposed almost three years ago and member states have two years before they need to add the directive into their national legislation.

“With today’s agreement, we are making copyright rules fit for the digital age,” EC president Jean-Claude Juncker said. “Europe will now have clear rules that guarantee fair remuneration for creators, strong rights for users and responsibility for platforms. When it comes to completing Europe’s digital single market, the copyright reform is the missing piece of the puzzle.”

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