You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

EU copyright law may force tech giants to pay billions to publishers

The Guardian logo The Guardian 12/09/2018 Mark Sweney

Music companies, film-makers and media publishers could be in line for billions in payouts after EU lawmakers voted to accept controversial changes to copyright rules that aim to make tech companies including Facebook and Google share more of their revenue.

The proposed legislation, that surfaced two years ago with the aim to update copyright for the digital age, has unleashed a ferocious lobbying war pitting the likes of Paul McCartney, Placido Domingo, Adele and film-makers including Mike Leigh, against the Silicon Valley giants and their respective supporters, including internet pioneer Tim Berners-Lee and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

On Wednesday, the European parliament voted to approve amended versions of the copyright directive’s two most controversial provisions, articles 11 and 13.

A total of 438 lawmakers voted for the amended copyright proposals to be adopted, with 226 against and 39 abstentions.

The two articles had been rejected by the European parliament when it voted on the draft legislation in July.

Article 11, which critics have dubbed a “link tax”, would force news aggregation and search sites such as Google and Facebook to pay publishers for showing news snippets or linking to news stories on other sites.

Europe’s biggest news agencies have urged MEPs to vote for the law, as they accused Google and Facebook of “plundering” the news and their ad revenues, resulting in a “threat to democracy”.

Article 13 would make platforms such as YouTube seek licences for content such as music videos, which artists say will allow them to properly negotiate better royalties.

“This is a great day for Europe’s creators,” said Helen Smith, executive chair of European music body Impala, which represents labels behind acts such as Adele, Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand. “The parliament has sent a clear message that copyright needs to be modernised to clarify obligations of platforms with regard to the creative works they distribute.”

Julia Reda, an MEP of Germany’s Pirate party, and lead critic of the changes, tweeted that the outcome of the vote is “catastrophic”.

Critics claim the proposal will destroy the internet, spelling the end of sharing holiday snaps or memes on Facebook. Wikipedia shut down its pages in some countries in protest at the plans, which it claims would force the closure of its user-generated encyclopedia.

Berners-Lee is among 70 internet luminaries to oppose the law, arguing it would be transform the internet from an open platform into a tool for “automated surveillance and control”.

Proponents have become exasperated by such claims, described by German Christian Democrat MEP Axel Voss, who led the introduction of the legislation, as spin on behalf of the tech giants that is “totally wrong” and “fake news”.

For years the music industry has argued that YouTube exploits the lack of legal protection around music videos being viewed on its service to pay minimal amounts to artists and labels when they are viewed. The music industry has long claimed there is a so-called “value gap” between the true worth of music videos and what YouTube pays.

Sign up to the daily Business Today email or follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDesk

The proposal will now go to three-way negotiations with the European commission and the Council of the European Union. The legislation still faces a final vote in the European parliament in January, although it is now unlikely to be defeated.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from The Guardian

AdChoices
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon