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EU Legal Committee Approves Controversial Copyright Directive

In a major blow to the open Internet, the vote supports push for a link tax and censorship machines that will have a global impact

June 20, 2018 — The Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (JURI) has narrowly voted for the controversial copyright directive proposed by the European Commission. The Committee went against the advice of experts and massive community concern, supporting a proposal that undermines the fabric of the Internet by severely limiting how links and content could be shared online.

The JURI vote comes after years of community campaigning to prevent legislation described by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, David Kaye, as a ‘disaster for free speech’ from becoming law in the European Union. The most problematic aspects of the Directive are contained within Articles 11, supporting a link tax, which passed today with a vote of 13 to 12; and Article 13, supporting censorship machines, which passed with a vote of 15 to 10.

“This is a major blow — not just for Europe, but for everyone around the world who wants to keep the Internet open and free, and protect free expression online,” said OpenMedia Executive Director Laura Tribe. “We’re extremely disappointed to see that JURI ignored experts from all over the world, by supporting the dangerous censorship proposals contained within the Copyright Directive.”

Tribe continued, “We’ve seen the lengths that rights holders will go to in order to maintain their old role and revenue stream as gatekeepers. But we have to see these attacks for what they are: A power grab to try to dictate what people can and can’t say on the Internet. The fight is not over, but today’s vote demonstrates just what we’re up against.”

To become law, the Commission’s plans would need to be approved by both the European Parliament and the European Council. The next phase of the process is expected to take place at plenary in the coming weeks.

Earlier this month, over 70 founders of the Internet spoke up against Article 13’s content filtering mechanisms, stating they would transform the Internet “from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.”

More than 140,000 people have signed OpenMedia petitions at savethelink.org, and emailed and tweeted JURI members right up until the morning of the vote to urge them to save the Internet.  

OpenMedia works to keep the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free. We create community-driven campaigns to engage, educate, and empower people to safeguard the Internet.

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