The European Union has granted final approval to the Copyright Directive, a controversial package of legislation designed to update the copyright law in Europe for the online era.
Members of the European Parliament voted 348 in favor of the law, 274 against.
For advocates of legislation, the directive will balance the playing field among the technological giants of EE. UU And European content creators, giving copyright holders more power over the way Internet platforms distribute their content. But critics say the law is vague and ill-conceived, and will restrict the way content is shared online, which suppresses freedom of expression in the process.
Politicians have been debating the legislation for more than two years, with fierce lobbying by both the technological giants and the copyright holders that drive the discussion from one side to the other. However, despite some setbacks, the most controversial clauses of the Copyright Directive have remained intact and were adopted today with only minor changes.
Julia Reda, MEP of the German Pirate Party, said that the approval of the law marked "a dark day for internet freedom".
Two parts of the copyright directive are of particular concern to critics: Article 11, known as "link tax" and Article 13, called "load filter". Article 11 allows publishers to upload platforms such as Google News when they show news snippets, while Article 13 (whose name has been renamed Article 17 in the most recent draft of the legislation) sites such as YouTube's new tasks to avoid that users upload copyrighted content.
In both cases, critics say that these well-intentioned laws will cause problems. They say that article 13 will lead to the general introduction of the "load filter", which will analyze all the content of users uploaded to the sites to remove copyrighted material. The law does not explicitly demand such filters, but critics say it will be inevitable since the sites seek to avoid sanctions.
Experts say that any filter is likely to be prone to errors and ineffective, which will stifle freedom of expression in the process.
Tens of thousands of people throughout Europe protested the directive, and more than five million signed a petition that explicitly requested that Article 13 be removed from the law.
In development …