The European Parliament approves the Copyright Directive

On 12 September 2018, the European Parliament approved the proposal for a Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market. The proposal passed by 438 votes in favor, 226 against and 39 abstentions. The Parliament had originally rejected the proposal in July but now approved the amended version. The draft directive will now move on to interinstitutional negotiations, a so-called trilogue between the Commission, the Parliament and the Council, where the final directive will be decided.

The draft Copyright Directive has received a strongly divided reception. The most controversial provisions are Articles 11 and 13. Article 11 provides for a new related right for press publishers concerning the digital use of their publications. Article 11 could force online platforms to pay news organizations for providing a snippet or a link to news articles. The aim of Article 11 is to extend the reproduction right in Directive 2001/29/EC of copyright and related rights in the information society to publishers of online press publications, but critics have also called it a “link tax”.

Article 13, on the other hand, aims to put greater responsibility on online service providers who store and give access to protected content uploaded by their users. It protects the rights of copyright holders whose content is uploaded illegally but also creates an obligation for service providers. Article 13 states that service providers should take measures, such as content recognition technologies, to prevent users from uploading copyrighted material to their platforms. To ensure this, uploaded material would have to be monitored and filtered, which some consider a restriction of free speech and fear it may lead to online censorship.

Although the Parliament has now agreed on the proposal, a debate on the contents of the directive will continue in the trilogue negotiations.

The EU Commission gave the initial proposal for a copyright directive in 2016 as part of its Digital Single Market strategy. The aim of the directive is to keep the European copyright framework up to date with the evolution of digital technologies.