EU Copyright Directive Stalled
Written by Sue Gee   
Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Copyright reforms proposed by the European Union, that could have devastating consequences for the Internet, have been halted at least temporarily. Have we escaped the controversial Link Tax (Article 11) and Upload Filters (Article 13)?

As far as the European Commission is concerned, the attempt to "reform" the Internet with its Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market has been ongoing since 2016. On I Programmer, we've been reporting the dangers of of this proposed legislation since March last year. It was initially brought to our attention by GitHub who, together with FSFE and OpenForum Europe pointed out that the upload filters (Article 13) intended make it possible for copyright holders to control the exploitation of their content could impact software development by being extended to code sharing. It quickly became apparent that Article 13 could have wide unintended consequences as summarized in this infographic from Save Your Internet.



When we last covered the EU Copyright Directive, in September, it did seem that the battle was lost since the European Parliament had voted decisively in favor of the legislation. All that remained to do was to hammer out the detail. This proved to be more difficult than anticipated and last Friday eleven countries voted against the compromise text proposed by the Romanian Council presidency, As a result the final "trilogue"  between European Parliament lawmakers, representatives of EU countries and Commission officials that had been due to take place on Monday January 22nd was cancelled.

On her blog, Julia Reda

This surprising turn of events does not mean the end of Link Tax or censorship machines, but it does make an adoption of the copyright directive before the European elections in May less likely. The Romanian Council presidency will have the chance to come up with a new text to try to find a qualified majority, but with opposition mounting on both sides of the debate, this is going to be a difficult task indeed.

It does seem that since September the campaign against Article 13 had attracted new allies. In October an open letter from 57 signatories representing civil liberties and human rights organizations argued that:

A legislative provision that requires internet companies to install a filtering system would almost certainly be rejected by the Court of Justice because it would contravene the requirement that a fair balance be struck between the right to intellectual property on the one hand, and the freedom to conduct business and the right to freedom of expression, such as to receive or impart information, on the other.

In December, just before the penultimate trilogue on the directive, a letter to MEPs came from films industry associations and sports leagues - the very organizations Article 13 was intended to benefit - asking to be removed from Article 13's scope.  

Finally last week, in a move that revealed the potential effect of  the link tax proposed in Article 11, which could force news aggregators to pay their sources, threatened to pull its services from Europe in the event the legislation came into force and gave a mockup of what this might look like in practice:


The message from Julia Reda and the Save Your Internet campaign is to keep up the pressure on the European Commission in the hope that this situation never comes to pass.



More Information

Copyright negotiations hit a brick wall in Council

Save Your Internet 

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 07 February 2019 )