EU copyright reform stalls

EU’s attempt to reform copyright laws stalled on Monday as a meeting between Euro MPs and officials was cancelled, prompting publishers to blame Google and other large tech companies for lobbying against the changes, according to a Reuters report.

The law, which has faced strong opposition from large tech companies including Facebook and Google, was approved by EU member states in September last year.

The European Commission argued the law needed to be changed to protect Europe’s cultural heritage and allow big online platforms, TV broadcasters, publishers, and artists to compete on an equal, level playing field.

Meeting delay

Euro MPs were scheduled to meet on Monday to reconcile their position, after EU countries failed to resolve their differences on Friday last week.

“Quite disappointed about this delay. I think we should not, on the last metres, lose sight of the major achievements that are already largely agreed,” commission digital chief, Andrus Ansip, said in a tweet.

The European Commission is facing a deadline to get the directive approved, as there are European Parliament elections taking place in May.

The two controversial new rules – known as Article 11 and Article 13 – have attracted widespread concerns from large technology companies.

Article 11, for example, could force companies like, Google, Microsoft and others, to pay publishers for displaying news clips. But, after “snippet taxes” came into effect in Spain and Germany in the past, publishers reported a steep drop in online traffic.

The other measure, Article 13, would require online platforms like YouTube and Instagram to install a copyright filter that prevents users from uploading copyrighted material, which critics claim could lead to lots of over-censorship.

Member states at the meeting disagreed with the size of the carve-out for small and medium-sized businesses, with Germany pushing for a higher threshold for SMEs subjected to the same legislation, while France wanted a lower bar, reported Reuters.

Tech opposition

A number of different publishers criticised lobbying by Google.

“Google has intensified its scaremongering about the possible impact of a new neighbouring right for press publishers,” the European Publishers Council, European Newspaper Publishers’ Association and the European Magazine Media Association said in a joint statement.

“They are running a ‘test’ of how they see Google Search might look in the event that press publishers can choose to seek licensing agreements with Google for the reuse of their content.”

 

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