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European Union Approves Controversial Copyright Law

The European Union parliament has approved a controversial copyright law that could go into effect in January 2019.  The so called “link tax” and “upload filter” laws could have big impact on tech companies and websites with Google likely the one that will feel the impact the most.

The approved Copyright Directive, which can be found here, is broad in its scope but there are two articles, 11 and 13, that are the crux of the concern about the law.  Article 11 deals with what many are referring to as the “link tax”.   The article is aimed to protect the copyright of content on websites.  Under this article, websites would have the right to demand license fees from any other site quoting its material.  While fair sounding, the approach was similarly tried in Spain and it had a massive impact on newspaper sites before it was abandoned.

Article 13 is aimed at social media platforms that would require them to prevent users fro sharing copyrighted material.  What this would mean is that sites would have to proactively detect copyright video content before it is made available to the public.  This, clearly, impacts YouTube directly but if enforced to the highest, most draconian level, could impact the likes of Facebook and Twitter too.  That level would be the blocking of GIFs or memes of images but that isn’t strictly called out in the directive.

Open source sites such as Wikipedia and Github would be exempt from this new law should it pass.

The final vote on this is expected to happen in January, at which point individual countries within the EU could decide who they want to implement it.

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