The European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee last week advanced a copyright law that is affecting the world. Next week, another session of Parliament will vote on it. If it passes through that channel, it then moves through another process with other European institutions that could come to a final decision by the end of the year. This new directive seeks to make copyright infringements online harder and ensures compensation for content. It is supposed to help provide order through the online channels.
The new law includes a “link tax”, which means that if a writer wants to link to something by quoting it, they need a license to do so. It also forces platforms that accept user-generated content, like Instagram and WordPress, to filter out content that might violate another person’s copyright. This means that even GIFs may decrease in creation- although the European Commission claims that that won’t be an issue because if someone finds that their memes are being taken from online platforms, they can appeal the removal of them so that they are reinstated.
However, the anticipated new law is already causing issues throughout the world. United States news sources like the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily news are no longer available for European readers in the EU to read. These websites all went dark for Europe once the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) became a law at the end of May and even file recovery won’t bring their archives back. Sources like the Chicago Tribune, the Orlando Sentinel, and the Baltimore Sun are also suffering negative effects from this new law.
Tronc and Lee Enterprises, both media publishing groups, are seeing the most stress from the GDPR. The websites through Tronc read, “Unfortunately, our website is currently unavailable in most European countries. We are engaged on the issue and committed to looking at options that support our full range of digital offerings to the EU market.”
Lee Enterprise, which runs 46 daily newspapers in 21 states, also has a statement on their website, which reads, “unavailable due to legal reasons”.
Under GDPR, companies that work in the EU or provide services to those within the EU must prove that they have a lawful basis for processing personal information, or they will be fined.
Google, however, is fighting back against the new regulations; as a search engine, Google has been targeted the most by this new legislature. Google sent a list of members of the Parliament (MEPs) to publishers that participate in the Digital News Initiative, telling them, “If you feel strongly about this, please consider contacting the MEPs.”
A public campaign to fight the new legislature, #SaveYourInternet, has gained traction and is backed by digital rights groups and non- profits all over the world.
The new EU copyright law is not finalized yet and could still be destroyed by the next vote in the European Parliament in early July, when every MEP will vote. As of current, the law has been approved by the legal affairs committee in the Parliament.