COPYRIGHT HAS JUST GOT a shot in the arm, with members of the European Parliament voting in favour of the European Copyright Directive, including the controversial Article 11 and Article 13.
For those of you who don't know, Article 11 essentially gives publishers, newspapers and websites the right to demand licences when a site, such as Google, links back to them.
Article 13, on the other hand, is a controversial law that means providers of content sharing platforms, think YouTube and the likes of Twitter, need to "take appropriate and proportionate measures" to ensure copyright agreements aren't broken.
Nicking content and pirating videos is not on, nor is loading up other people's work on YouTube or your own blog and profiteering from it.
But the European Copyright Directive looks like it will impose some severe restrictions on how content can be spread across the internet; for example, it could end up limiting how INQUIRER stories are shared on Google News because the search giant might not want to pay for the license to do so. That would be essentially limit how easy it would be for you dear readers to find out words of wisdom.
For YouTube and other content sharing platforms, the copyright laws would force the granular policing of all content for copyright infringement, no matter how small. That's an enormous ask for Google even with all its might given how many videos are on YouTube, and smaller platforms could struggle due to a lack of resources.
And the laws would arguably be open to rampant copyright trolling, as well as curtail freedom of expression expressed through the likes of memes which make use of snippets of copyrighted material.
But MEPs don't seem to think so, as 438 of them voted for it, 226 against and 39 abstained; MEPs had previously pooh-poohed the Directive but we guess they've had a change of heart.
Apparently, there are amendments to the Directive that should prevent such abuses. And it could help narrow the gap between the money tech firms like Spotify make from using copyrighted material while only paying small royalties for the privileged, which is good news for musicians.
The Directive still needs the final approval of the European Parliament next January next year, but its likely to get that, after which it needs to be interpreted and implemented by member states.
Jim Killock, executive director at the Open Rights Group wants to keep the Directive away from becoming a proper law.
"Article 13 creates a Robo-copyright regime that would zap any image, text, meme or video that appears to include copyright material whether it is legally used or not. This is disappointing and will open the door to more demands for Robocop censorship," he said in a statement to The INQUIRER.
"The Directive is not yet law and could improve during trialogue negotiations. We will keep opposing these measures which will lead to legal material being removed in this way."
We're not sure on whether Brexit will help the UK avoid the Directive but much like GDPR, Blighty is likely to follow suit, which means a big shake-up to copyright and content-sharing on the internet is set to make life difficult for Google and other web firms large and small. µ
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