The Copyright Directive — And Article 13 — Clear Another Major Hurdle in the EU

Bad news for Article 13 critics – the Copyright Directive keeps gaining traction in Europe.

While indie artists were busy fighting labels and publishers in Europe, France and Germany seemingly saved the Copyright Directive.

After hitting a brick wall in the European Union over a month ago, both countries pushed a new proposal.

The Copyright Directive includes the controversial Article 13, once considered a major win for the music industry.  The new measure would grant copyright holders more control over their works on UGC sites like YouTube and Facebook.  It would also impose stiff penalties on tech giants who didn’t filter and police their platforms for infringing content.

In short, Article 13 would force digital platforms to pay content creators for using their work, while imposing stiff penalties for failing to filter against infringement.

Two weeks ago – and after two years of deliberations – lawmakers submitted the finalized version of the Copyright Directive.  The legal departments of the European Union would review and vote on the new text.

Now, depending on who you ask, the EU has either made a breakthrough decision, or just pushed a major disaster.

Advancing the Copyright Directive.

It’s no secret the legislation has drawn major criticism.

Initially dubbed the “Meme Ban,” major tech groups, including Microsoft, Google, and Facebook, have openly slammed the bill.

Opponents – including paid-for campaigns – claimed that the bill would limit self-expression on the internet.  Most notably, MEP Julia Reda, a staunch critic and member of the Pirate Party, urged people to ensure the bill’s defeat.  Supporters would push lawmakers to vote against the controversial legislation.

Spinning the finalized text, she told her online followers,

In practice, all sites and apps where users may share content will likely be forced to accept any license a rightsholder offers them, no matter how bad the terms, and no matter whether they actually want that rightsholder’s copyrighted material to be available on their platform, to avoid the massive legal risk of coming in conflict with Article 13.

Unfortunately, Reda and Article 13’s very vocal critics have just received some pretty bad news.  The bill has passed another major legal hurdle in the EU.

The European Parliament’s Justice Committee has voted in favor of France and Germany’s compromise.  This includes the statutes the music industry has long pushed for – safe harbor reforms and new rights for European songwriters and artists.

Speaking about the vote, the European Composer and Songwriter Alliance (ECSA) praised the Justice Committee’s decision.

We warmly thank all the MEPs who supported the Copyright Directive, and in particular, those who fought hard to strengthen the authors’ bargaining power and improve their remuneration.

“Today’s vote sends a positive and historical signal to all citizens who want to write, compose, create, and be fairly remunerated for their work.

“We now encourage all members of the European Parliament to formally adopt the copyright directive without further delay.

Today’s decision means that the European Parliament will now have its final say on the Copyright Directive – and Article 13 – by the end of March.