Yesterday, the European Union approved a new internet copyright law. The overhaul aims to give more protection to artists and news organizations. But critics say it will stifle freedom of speech and online creativity—and punish smaller web companies.
The legislation makes companies responsible for making sure copyrighted material isn’t uploaded to their platforms without permission from the original creator. (Goodbye uploading favorite songs to Instagram!)
The law also requires search engines and social media sites to pay for linking to or featuring snippets of news articles, music, or videos—or else use automatic filters that would delete material. Such requirements could give tech giants an edge over smaller companies since policing violations costs money and requires manpower.
The music industry and other groups applaud the new law. They say the revamp will help give writers and artists more protection by requiring tech giants like Apple, Facebook, and Google to pay them more for their work.
But many authors and artists fear they won’t earn much more—but their creativity will be stifled.
More than 5.2 million people signed an online petition against the new law, including Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, and Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales.
Meanwhile, some internet users worry that the new rules would bring an end to internet spoofs and “memes” that are often based on or inspired by existing songs, movies, or other content.
“The new law makes everyone a loser,” says Julia Reda, a lawmaker who campaigns for freedom of information online. “Artists, authors, and small publishers will not get their fair [payment] and internet users will have to live with limited freedoms.”
All 28 EU member nations must adopt the directive as law. Each country has two years to comply by drafting its own laws.
(People protest against the copyright bill in Leipzig, Germany. Yesterday, the European Union approved a copyright law that aims to give more protection to artists and news organizations but which critics say will stifle freedom of speech and online creativity and punish smaller web companies. Peter Endig/dpa via AP)