THE CONTROVERSIAL EU COPYRIGHT DIRECTIVE is at death's door after final negotiations scheduled for today were pulled. Why were they pulled? It was clear resistance was just too great to pass in its current form.
A total of 11 countries - Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland, Slovenia, Italy, Poland, Sweden, Croatia, Luxembourg and Portugal - voted against the compromise text proposed by Romania earlier in the week. Given there are only 27 countries in the EU - 28 including the Schrodinger's member of the UK - that's a pretty big bloc of dissent.
It's something of a coincidence that 11 countries have already rejected the revised text, because it's Article 11 that is causing much of the disagreement. This would create a so-called 'Link Tax' whereby search engines would have to pay sites for including snippets of their sites in search engines; Google gave us a taste of what it's reaction to such a move would be last week, when in full lobbying mode.
It's not just Article 11 though - if anything, Article 13 is even more contentious. Frequently criticised as an 'attack on memes', the regulation would require internet companies to be ever vigilant for copyright infringement, with limited protections for fair use.
While this latest setback doesn't kill off the EU Copyright Directive, it certainly makes it a lot harder for it to pass in its current form - and, crucially, any time soon. The original vote was scheduled for March, to give it time to pass ahead of May's European elections, and with such huge divisions clear, it's a big ask to revise it to still meet that schedule.
A new make up of MEPs might be more sympathetic to the bill's aims, but it's quite likely that things will be broadly the same or even more hostile. For now, the EU Copyright Directive is on life support, and at the very least the can looks set to be kicked firmly down the road. µ
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