Not So Fast: Europe’s Controversial New Copyright Law Was Just Held Up After an Intense Lobbying War

Europe’s hugely controversial new copyright law has been stalled, after members of the European Parliament decided not to fast-track it to the next stage of the legislative process.

The controversy about the new copyright directive comes down to two elements: Article 11, which would demand that the likes of Google pay a license fee for quoting text when linking to online news stories, and Article 13, which would force online platforms to actively monitor everything their users upload in order to spot and automatically zap copyright violations.

In late June, the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee approved a version of the law that contains these elements, and said it wanted to move forward to the next stage of the legislative process—negotiations with European countries.

However, there was immense pushback from citizens and online concerns such as Wikipedia, which argued that the new rules would increase online surveillance and censorship, while making it harder for people to share information.

The campaign to win over members of the European Parliament (MEPs) worked. On Thursday, a plenary session of the entire parliament voted by 318 votes to 278 to reject the legal affairs committee’s fast-tracking approach.

This means that, after the summer break, the Parliament will hold new debates on the law in September, and the directive may still be amended before it goes through to those negotiations with member states.

Julia Reda, the Pirate MEP who has fought harder than most to scrap Articles 11 and 13, celebrated the vote.

Some in the content industry were less pleased. Impala, a music industry lobbying body, issued a statement decrying how the tech industry lobbied for the directive to be reconsidered.

“Copyright aside, the hijacking of the process raises fundamental questions about how incumbent platforms and supposedly objective operators abuse their position. It underlines the need for greater transparency and scrutiny, especially with actors who have huge potential to influence public opinion and are not shy about using it,” said Impala executive chair Helen Smith.

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