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European Copyright Directive passes, setting dangerous precedent for the open Internet

Despite massive public opposition, the European Parliament has rubber-stamped a Link Tax and Censorship Machines

Today the European Parliament held the final vote on the controversial EU Copyright Directive, which has been one of the most unpopular pieces of legislation in European history. The final vote approved Articles 11 (Link Tax) and 13 (mandatory content filtering) of the Copyright Directive, in a vote of 348 to 274.

Article 11, also known as the Link Tax, will copyright the snippets of text that usually accompany links – often used as previews to help Internet users find content online. Article 13 introduces mandatory content filtering requirements, which will require platforms to proactively filter content before it is posted online – effectively turning online platforms into the copyright police. These proposals have seen widespread opposition due to their vast potential to meddle with the open nature of the Internet and entrench some of the largest online players, while failing to help compensate smaller and independent creators.

Today’s vote is a major blow to the open Internet. In today’s decision, the European Parliament has sided with lobbyists, and ignored the needs of creators and Internet users. This Directive clearly positions the Internet as a tool for corporations and profits – not for people. This Directive only further entrenches the largest platforms – the only ones with the resources to actually comply to these dramatic regulations. But we have seen widespread opposition to these changes, which is going to be critical to preventing these dangerous proposals from making their way to Canada.

As Canada’s Copyright Act is currently under review, these or similar proposals could also potentially make their way into Canadian legislation. But over 4,400 people in Canada have already spoken out against these and other dangerous proposals as a part of the Copyright Act review process, at https://letstalkcopyright.ca.

However, even without any changes to Canada’s own Copyright Act, the EU Copyright Directive will still very likely impact Internet users in Canada. As the changes take place, Internet users around the world will most likely experience changes to major platforms and services, as these work to accommodate the new changes.

Unless member states vote against the Directive at the European Council, the rollout of the Directive is now in the hands of the individual member states. Each country now has until 2021 to adopt the Directive. Platforms could be facing up to 28 versions of legislation they need to comply with – a situation that for companies who do not have the interest or capacity to create country-specific platforms, may result in companies choosing the most restrictive interpretation, adopted universally.

Over 5 million Europeans signed a petition against Article 13, resulting in the largest petition in European history at: https://www.change.org/p/european-parliament-stop-the-censorship-machinery-save-the-internet.

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