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MEPs send copyright reform proposal back for rethink

10 July 2018, 14:00 CET
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MEPs send copyright reform proposal back for rethink

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(STRASBOURG) - The EU Parliament rejected Thursday a committee proposal to update EU copyright rules, including measures to monitor and filter uploads to the Internet some described as a 'vote for mass internet censorship'.

With their vote, MEPs decided to review the proposed EU Copyright Directive in September. The rules, supposed to 'bring copyright into the digital single market', aim to ensure that artists (especially the small ones, for instance musicians), news publishers, authors and performers derive more benefit from today's online marketplace.

MEPs were looking to rectify a situation where news publishers and artists were not getting paid "due to the practices of powerful online content-sharing platforms and news aggregators". They argued that the principle of fair pay for work done 'should apply to everyone, everywhere, whether in the physical or online world'.

Some high-profile artists - including Placido Domingo, James Blunt, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Sir Paul McCartney - had urged the MEPs to seize the chance to restore fairness to Europe's online music marketplace. However, many other individuals, civil society groups, creators, academics and even the inventor of the World Wide Web had heavily criticised some of the measures, particularly a controversial Article 13, which mandates the mass monitoring and censorship of internet uploads.

According to EuroISPA, the pan-European association of European Internet Services Providers Associations, "Article 13 would require Internet platforms to install unaffordable upload filters to assess the legality of copyright-protected content. This will lead to over-blocking and censorship of lawful content, thus endangering European users' fundamental freedoms".

MEPs are now tasked with finding an optimal text that balances all views on the directive and removes the risk of privatised censorship.

European Parliament's rules of procedure provide that if at least 10% of MEPs (76) object to opening negotiations with the Council based on the text voted in committee, a plenary vote will be held. By the deadline of midnight on Tuesday, the requisite number of MEPs had lodged their objection.

"The European Parliament will now be able, in an open debate, to improve the text and defend freedom of expression ahead of the next elections", said Diego Naranjo, Senior Policy Advisor at EDRi.European Digital Rights (EDRi).

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