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European Parliament voted for strict copyright legislation

A few hours ago, the European Parliament, the main legislative body for the European Union voted in a piece of much-feared copyright and intellectual property legislation. Quoting the EU parliament’s official website:

Parliament adopted its revised negotiating position on copyright rules on Wednesday, adding safeguards to protect small firms and freedom of expression. Parliament’s position for talks with member states to hammer out a final deal was approved by 438 votes to 226, with 39 abstentions. It makes some important tweaks to the June committee proposal.

Companies like Google, Twitter, Bing, Facebook and so on will have to pay for content shared on their platforms. Any site allowing its users to share content will be held responsible, which could mean they are forced to create tools to check that any content posted is done with its creator’s or owner’s permission. Article 13 makes all uploaded content require that its uploader owns copyright to the content or have acquired a license to use it, and that the site publishing it have checked and verified this.

EU is offering a hand to small sites, who feared that article 13 would favor big players who can afford to get the staff and tools to enforce it.  According to the EU, small and micro platforms will be excluded. Wikipedia, GitHub, GitLab and other such sites can also breathe again; all non-commercial online encyclopaedias and open source software platforms will automatically be excluded and do not need to comply.

Another controversial article in some new, or rather soon-to-come EU legislation is article 11, also known as a “link tax”. If a link on let’s say Bing search results contains an extract or preview of the linked content, the original source would be entitled to a copyright fee. In an earlier post, I used the following screenshot as an example, where its yellow highlighted parts would entitle each of the shown in these search results to extract a fee from Bing:

There’s an interesting twist to article 11, too. Take for instance that link to The Verge shown in the preceding screenshot. The article was written by James Vincent, who when new legislation gets enforced would also be entitled to his share of copyright fees paid to The Verge by Bing. And, let’s not forget, me posting that screenshot might also not be excluded from license fees.

The EU says now that “a link and a few words will be accepted, and excluded”. What that “few words” means is anyone’s guess. The fact is, in the relatively near future, even quite small quotes and extracts from any other source might be viewed as copyright infringement, with attendant legal and financial liabilities.

For me personally, this is a controversial topic. I am pro-EU, I even like the new GDPR. I think owners of intellectual property should be compensated when their work is used. But, in my opinion both Article 11 and Article 13 are taking things too far. Luckily, as the European legislative process requires, all member states must accept them. Those negotiations will be long and hard, and in an effort to remain optimistic, I trust that a working compromise will be found and more draconian limitations eased. Cross your fingers!


Featured image: Copyright CC BY-SA 3.0 Nick Youngson / Alpha Stock Images


Author: Kari Finn

A former Windows Insider MVP, Kari started in computing in the mid 80’s writing code for VAX / VMS systems. Since then, he’s worked in a variety of IT positions. He specializes in Windows image capture, customization, repair and deployment as well as Hyper-V virtualization. Kari is a proud Team Member at number #1 Windows site TenForums.com.

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