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Good news! The European Parliament has just dealt a major blow to the Commission’s Link Tax plans

A closely-watched report from the EU Copyright Rapporteur recommends the Link Tax be removed from draft legislation — but doesn’t go far enough to address concerns about content censorship

It looks like the European Parliament is listening to your concerns about the Link Tax! For many days now, all eyes have been on EU Copyright Rapporteur Therese Comodini Cachia, as MEPs — and your OpenMedia team — watched closely to see what she would recommend in terms of both the Link Tax and the European Commission’s proposed new content censorship powers.

Early this morning, Cachia delivered: her draft report recommends that controversial European Commission proposals for a “Link Tax” (Article 11) be removed from draft legislation updating Europe’s copyright rules.

Her draft report — leaked today by Politico— also recommends amendments to the Commission’s plans for mandatory content filtering (Article 13), but unfortunately leaves the door open to an implementation of the article that could lead to content censorship.

On the whole, however, this report is a big step in the right direction. We have always warned that a Link Tax would drastically restrict citizens’ ability to access and share information freely online, and in her draft opinion, Comodini Cachia agreed, stating that these proposals should be removed from the legislation because “wide access to these news and opinions is important for public debate in a democratic society.”

It’s great to see that the European Parliament is listening to citizens’ concerns about the Link Tax — and this would never have happened without you and the over 128,000 Internet users calling for the rejection of these plans. It’s heartening to see MEPs stand up for Internet users’ rights, especially given how the Commission ignored citizen feedback in developing its plan.

People want to be able to find the information they need online — nobody wants for links to be missing or for content to be blocked. Sadly, while today’s report brings positive news on the link tax, it doesn’t go far enough to address concerns around content censorship. It will now be up to MEPs to reject both the link tax and content filtering provisions entirely, and usher in safeguards for user-generated content that benefit every EU citizen.

Key points from today’s leaked report include:

  • In recommending the deletion of proposed Link Tax powers in Article 11, Cachia noted that “it is these linking or referencing systems (such as hyperlinks) that facilitate the finding by users of news online portals.” — a message thousands of you sent to your representatives over recent months.

  • Cachia also noted that “it is also important to consider that plurality of news and opinions and wide access to these news and opinions is important for public debate in a democratic society. Similarly, non-commercial sharing of such news or opinions is also important in modern democratic societies.”

  • Rather than a mandatory provision for content filtering Cachia acknowledges that while “implementation of agreements concluded between service providers and rightholders may be carried out through technological measures which however must be respectful of the copyright acquis in its entirety thereby not only respectful of the rights in copyright but also of the exceptions and limitations to copyright,” the liability of enforcing those rights rests with rightsholders themselves, and not with the platforms through which they are being accessed.

Today’s leaked report comes hot on the heels of encouraging recommendations from the European Parliament’s internal market committee, that Article 11 (Link Tax) be scrapped. That committee also warned that Article 13 (content censorship) harmed the interests of Internet users. It also follows a recent independent study by the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law revealing that content filtering proposals face serious legal problems. Other academic research has reached similar conclusions.

The European Commission’s original plans for a Link Tax would have provided publishing giants with sweeping new powers to charge fees when snippets of text accompany hyperlinks. The plans — backed by then-Digital Commissioner Gunther Oettinger — sparked controversy and widespread media coverage when they were first unveiled last September, but recent media reports in Politico suggest the proposals have “hit the rocks” with MEPs.

The bottom line? Your voices are being heard! And, if you’ve yet to do so, there’s never been a better time to send a message to your MEP about the Commission’s link tax and content censorship proposals at If you’ve already taken action, please share this widely with everyone you know on Facebook and Twitter— we need to make sure MEPs know where their constituents stand.


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