As with the The General Data ProtectionRegulations (GDPR) which entered into force earlier this year, anothercontroversial piece of EU legislation in regards to the  internet is being hotly debated. The EU Copyright Directive or the Proposalfor a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on Copyright inthe Digital Single Market, is a proposed directive that is intended to change internet copyrightlaw in the European Union.

The policy would require anyone with the ability to publish content online tomaintain a database of copyrighted works that were claimed by right’s holders.Two articlesin particular withinthe proposal, have been met with scrutiny in regards to how it would changeonline behaviors, specifically in terms of uploading and sharing media.

Controversy

The EU Copyright Directive,which would act as the only E.U. based internet copyright legislation since2001, a time where the internet was a very different place than we know it now,therefore wide-sweeping and progressive changes are sought to be be implementedand this has lead to a significant amount of controversy, most evident inArticles 11 & 13 of the proposed directive.

In regards to Article 11, content publishers would require extra copyrights fornews or media outlets, requiring anyone who would like to link to a news siteto obtain a license from the publisher/s. This could have the knock on effectof restricting access to information, the freedom of expression as well aslikely encouraging the recent epidemic of fake news on the internet, as lessreputable news outlets are less likely to charge as much as official newssources and thus the internet as we know it would be a more dangerous place forsharing information.

However, the most controversial of all is that of Article 13, which requiresthat internet platforms that rely on hosting large amounts of user-uploadeddata must monitor that content and moderate it in order to identify copyrightinfringement, therefore, hosting sites would be required to use contentrecognition technologies to scan copyrighted videos, music, photos, text andcode to remove them before they are ever posted. Many believe that this wouldimpact on creation and sharing as the content-matching technologies employed tomeet the requirements set out in the directive cannot identify fair dealingsuch as parody, thus the proposal could limit the freedom of expression andharm independent creators on the internet.



Backlash

Although it passed overwhelminglyin the European Parliament, with 438 votes in favour and 226 against, thedirective has attracted many detractors, mainly in the form of the major onlineplatforms and content publishers.

Google has come out against the proposed directive in stating that it may haveto cease operation of Google News in the E.U. if they have to pay publishers toprovide links to their articles or paying the “link tax” as Article 11 is beingreferred to.

In terms of Article 13, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, has also stated that “userscould be less inclined to upload their own videos, viewers blocked and smallcreators could be ruined. Ultimately, this new rule could change the Internetthat we see today.”

Popular content sharing sites, such as YouTube and Reddit have notified theirusers via their homepages, of the perceived dangers of the new directive andurged them to not only educate themselves further on the law but to join themin protesting it’s implementation, even going as far as shutting downoperations for one whole day in an act of protest, in the case of Reddit.

What now?

As of this month Google has begunopenly campaigning against the proposal, threatening to shut down YouTube inthe EU unless concessions are made, however, as the directive was approved bythe European Parliament on 12 September 2018, it is currently passing throughformal trilogue discussions between the European Commission, the Council of theEuropean Union and the European Parliament that are expected to conclude inJanuary 2019. If formalised, each of the EU’s member countries would then berequired to enact laws to support the EU Copyright Directive.