European Union approves controversial internet copyright law, including ‘link tax’ and ‘upload filter’


Although it remains vague, critics say it would require websites - even places like Google News - to pay a fee for every link to a website they provide, which seems nearly unenforceable.

The original legislation was knocked back in July and since then changes have been made, but its critics still say it will lead to censorship. "[The warnings] are correct, but exaggerated".

Jean, a former member of American hip-hop group The Fugees, stands on one side of a fractious debate over internet freedom that has pitched artists and musicians against tech giants and internet activists.

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.

European lawmakers "decided to support the filtering of the internet to the benefit of big businesses in the music and publishing industries despite huge public outcry", said Siada El Ramly, director general of Edima, an internet platform association that includes Facebook and Google.

"Today's decision is a bitter setback for the free and open internet, favoring company profits over the principles that enabled the internet to become what it is today, said Julia Rede, a politician for Germany's Pirate Party".

Some also worry about the cost and reliability of automated filters. YouTube said it spent over $100 million on an existing content ID system that identifies copyrighted material after it's published. Supporters of the law argue that people and companies in the creative industries are being starved of revenues lost to the sharing of their intellectual property on digital platforms. It's an unprecedented move from the European Parliament to limit the more innovative and sharing aspects of the internet.

Article 11 introduces a so-called "link tax" which would mean that social media platforms, such as Google and Facebook, could have to pay news organisations to use their headlines on their sites. The rules also apply to snippets, where only a small part of a news publisher's text is indexed and displayed, for example, in search results. Much of the criticism has rightfully focused on Article 13, which would result in unsafe, preemptive, automatic filtering of content without necessary safeguards to protect creativity online. When Spain tried something similar, Google shuttered its Google News product.