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Consumer rights committee approves anti-consumer Link Tax

IMCO committee ignores public outcry and votes in favour of the innovation-killing publishers’ right

June 8, 2017 In a critical vote on the European Commission’s Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive, members of the European Parliament's Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) committee voted to approve the neighbouring right for press publishers — aka the ‘Link Tax’.

Despite widespread and sustained public concern over this proposal, the IMCO committee voted in favour of Article 11 — the Commission’s proposed Link Tax, that would force websites that link to news outlets to pay a fee for including snippets of text that accompany hyperlinks. The final package passed with 19 votes for, 7 against and 6 abstentions, with many members of the committee absent from the vote.

Responding to this morning’s vote on the Link Tax, OpenMedia Digital Rights Specialist Ruth Coustick-Deal had this to say:

“To see the committee tasked with protecting consumer rights pass such a blatantly anti-consumer measure is frankly shocking — especially given the level of public interest in this proposal. Over 120,000 Internet users, dozens of civil society organizations, small and independent publishers, and several prominent academics have come out against the Link Tax — there is no excuse for elected officials to claim ignorance.”

Coustick-Deal continued, “It seems that this disappointing vote is at least partly due to a number of MEPs not showing up for the vote. There is no doubt that EU citizens will be discouraged to see such harmful proposals go ahead.”

There were some positive elements to today’s vote — including the rejection of Article 13 that proposed content filtering for all websites allowing user-generated content, another hotly-contested piece of the Commission’s proposal. The committee also passed ‘Freedom of Panorama exception’ to carry across Europe, giving individuals the right to take photos of public buildings and sculptures.

This vote precedes debate in other key parliamentary committees. The Legal Affairs (JURI) committee that is leading on this file is expected to vote in September.

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