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European legislation to challenge content sharers

The European Parliament has adopted its revised negotiating position on copyright rules, adding safeguards to protect small firms and freedom of expression. Parliament’s position for talks with member states to hammer out a final deal was approved by 438 votes to 226, with 39 abstentions. It makes some important tweaks to the June committee proposal.

Many of Parliament’s changes to the EU Commission’s original proposal aim to make certain that artists, notably musicians, performers and script authors, as well as news publishers and journalists, are paid for their work when it is used by sharing platforms such as YouTube or Facebook, and news aggregators such as Google News.

After the vote, rapporteur Axel Voss (EPP, DE) said, “I am very glad that despite the very strong lobbying campaign by the internet giants, there is now a majority in the full house backing the need to protect the principle of fair pay for European creatives. There has been much heated debate around this directive and I believe that Parliament has listened carefully to the concerns raised. Thus, we have addressed concerns raised about innovation by excluding small and micro platforms or aggregators from the scope.”

Parliament’s position toughens the Commission’s proposed plans to make online platforms and aggregators liable for copyright infringements. This would also apply to snippets, where only a small part of a news publisher’s text is displayed. In practice, this liability requires these parties to pay right holders for copyrighted material that they make available. Parliament’s text also specifically requires that journalists themselves, and not just their publishing houses, benefit from remuneration stemming from this liability requirement.

At the same time, in an attempt to encourage start-ups and innovation, the text now exempts small and micro platforms from the directive.