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European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee Gives Green Light to Harmful Link Tax and Pervasive Platform Censorship


If you’re in the EU, go to and tell your MEPs to stop the proposal and reopen the debate.

Today, the European Parliament the Legal Affairs Committee voted in favor of the most harmful provisions of the proposed Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market.

The outcome reflects a disturbing path toward increasing control of the web to benefit powerful rights holders at the expense of the open internet, freedom of expression, and the rights of users and the public interest in the digital environment.

The committee voted 13-12 in favor of Article 11, the provision known as the “link tax,” which grants an additional right to press publishers requiring anyone using snippets of journalistic content to first get a license or pay a fee to the publisher for its use online. Article 11 is ill-suited to address the challenges in supporting quality journalism, and it will further decrease competition and innovation in news delivery. Similar efforts have already failed miserably in Germany and Spain.

The committee voted 15-10 in favor of Article 13, the provision that would require online platforms to monitor their users’ uploads and try to prevent copyright infringement through automated filtering. Article 13 will limit freedom of expression, as the required upload filters won’t be able to tell the difference between copyright infringement and permitted uses of copyrighted works under limitations and exceptions. It puts into jeopardy the sharing of video remixes, memes, parody, and code, even works that include openly licensed content.

As Communia reports, the committee voted against nearly all measures that would attempt to grant more rights to users, such as commonsense proposals for limitations and exceptions for freedom of panorama and user generated content. The committee adopted some positive improvements to the provisions having to do with education, access to works in the cultural heritage sector, and in research, but many of the changes are superficial, leaving the underlying effect of the article quite restrained.

Over the last months we contributed to massive online campaigns to #SaveTheLink, stop the #CensorshipMachines, protect education, and promote innovation in research and text and data mining. These efforts were organised by dozens of civil society and digital rights organizations, and hundreds of thousands of people made their voices heard in calling for a more progressive and balanced copyright in the EU.

The fight is not over. EDRi notes that there are several additional steps before the Directive can be fully adopted. In the vote today, the Parliament gave itself a mandate to negotiate a final deal with the EU Council (the EU Member States). But this decision can be challenged in the next plenary meeting (all 751 MEPs), where the Parliament could decide to reopen the copyright reform for debate within the larger forum, thus potentially offering an opportunity to make other changes to the text. This vote would likely happen on July 4.

The work to #FixCopyright in the EU is far from complete. We’ll be there advocating for copyright rules that protects and promotes the commons and the open web. We need your help to make sure that our voice is heard even louder this time.

Posted 20 June 2018