Controversial Copyright Reforms Get Backing From European Parliament

Controversial proposals to restructure online copyright have just gotten the European Parliament’s backing. This includes supporting Article 11; an extension to cover snippets of publishers’ content, and Article 13, which aims to make platforms that hold a significant amount of content accountable for copyright violations by their users.


The plenary vote in the European parliament was on proposals that had earlier in July been rejected by MEPs (Members of the European Parliament). The MEPs had argued for more balanced measures with driving the reform, and this is a major win for him. They provided major backing for Voss’ reforms, which had lessened the scope of rejected text and allowed for links to include individual words to publishers’ content. This was in response to critics who contended that the move would prohibit hyperlinks.

Axel Voss MEP

Voss’ amended proposal on Article 13 reduced the range to platforms that host both “significant” amounts of content and “promote” them, including small businesses. At the announcement of votes, Voss was openly thrilled. Critics and free speech advocates recited the results as a disaster. Sports organizers new exclusive right got one vote by European Parliament.

Voss said “Members of the house, heartfelt thanks for the job that we have done together. This is a good sign for the creative industries in Europe”, as he asked for the report to be returned to committee for institutional negotiations with the Member States, via the European Council. MEPs accordingly agreed. Only one MEP criticized the outcome as “a massive strike against freedom of speech online”.

The parliament also rejected several middle ground positions and eliminating the reforms. Vice President of the Greens/EFA group and Pirate Party MEP, Julia Reda, expanded on her criticism of the reforms and noted that the proposals would force platforms to impose filters to “legal content such as memes” and “link tax”.

“This decision is a harsh blow to free and open internet,” Reda said. She argued that the new technical and legal limits on what users can post and share online would only serve the corporate world and prohibit freedom of speech. This would be going against the very principles that make the internet what it is.

She added that in a country like Germany, journalist and publishers had made no extra money after the implementation of the “link tax”. News sector startups had also been forced to shut down, and there was still legal uncertainty in courts. Reda said, “This is the same thing that will happen at the EU level.”

“The parliament has thrown away the chance to get these reforms done the right way”, MEP Marietje Schaake said. She noted disappointedly that this result was disastrous and did not protect the fundamental rights of ordinary internet users or the future of Europe in artificial intelligence. Instead, it was a step in the wrong direction and was not fit for this century.

Catherine STIHLER in the European Parliament in Brussels

Catherine Stihler added that this was appalling for researchers, innovators, consumer and users. “This will not help the digital economy in Europe. It is a barrier to free speech and will hinder market entry for startups,” she said.

In a joint statement made by Mariya Gabriel, the commissioner for Digital Economy and Society and Andrus Ansip the VP for Digital Single Market, Mariya said:

Today’s vote at the European Parliament is welcome. It is a crucial step to accomplish our common goal of modernizing the copyright rules in Europe. This reform will bring great benefits to its citizens and expand the potential for more content and creativity for researchers, writers, press, artists and institutions. It will safeguard freedom of speech, and online platforms will be able to create new and innovative business models.

The music industry is one of the creative industries that are happy with the new reforms as they have for long pointed out that as things stand they are on the losing end.