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Mar 28 2019

European Parliament Approves Copyright Reform

The members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have adopted new copyright rules for the Internet in today's plenary session, with 348 votes cast in favor of the reform, 274 against it and 36 abstentions.

According to the official announcement from the EP's press team, "[t]the directive aims to ensure that the longstanding rights and obligations of copyright law also apply to the internet. YouTube, Facebook and Google News are some of the internet household names that will be most directly affected by this legislation." Likewise, it "strives to ensure that the internet remains a space for freedom of expression." A selection of key provisions is listed below:

  • Internet platforms are liable for content that users upload
  • Some uploaded material, such as memes or GIFs, are now specifically excluded from the directive
  • Hyperlinks to news articles, accompanied by "individual words or very short extracts", can be shared freely
  • Journalists must get a share of any copyright-related revenue obtained by their news publisher
  • Start-up platforms are subject to lighter obligations

Today's vote marks the end of the legislative process for the European Parliament that began in 2016. In the next step, member state parliaments will vote on whether they approve the EP decision over the coming weeks. If the member states accept the text adopted by the European Parliament, it will take effect after publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (EUR-Lex); afterwards, member states will have 2 years to incorporate it into their respective national laws.

For more on this topic, please see the reports by The Guardian and the New York Times. Timothy B. Lee offers a more detailed analysis at Ars Technica (the critical Article 13 mentioned in his piece became Article 17 in the approved directive).


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