New copyright legislation for EU

The EU Parliament has decided in favour of a new intellectual property law aimed at strengthening the rights of publishers, artists and journalists. Internet platforms must prevent content protected by copyright from being put online. The reform will be put to vote in the member states next spring. How useful are the new regulations?

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Finally setting limits on digital capitalism

The Süddeutsche Zeitung is delighted that the authors of online content will in future be able to demand payment from Google and other companies for using the content:

“This is important and right for three reasons. First of all it strengthens the free press, one of the pillars of democracy that in the process of digitalisation and the resulting free-of-charge mentality has become wobbly. Second, it protects those without whose creative achievements we cannot and do not want to live. Thirdly and perhaps most importantly, European politicians are proving for the first time that they are capable of putting limits on digital capitalism.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Filter will sift out start-ups too

The tougher copyright laws will only increase the larger companies' Internet dominance, Der Standard complains:

“The implementation of an upload filter is also a costly undertaking. Companies like Google, which wields billions and with Youtube's content ID already has such mechanisms at its disposal, can afford this. This is less likely to be the case for a European start-up that is already fighting to survive in Europe's IT desert and is up against giants like Alphabet and Facebook. ... Even if we leave aside the problems of a democratic nature that this creates in putting such responsibility in the hands of a private company like Google, it's unlikely that the company will help its competitors to gain a foothold.”

Wpolityce.pl (PL) /

The end of the free Internet

The copyright reform spells the end for the free Internet, fears Michał Karnowski, co-publisher of the right-wing website wPolityce.pl:

“This reform will above all serve the interests of the huge media companies - in particular German ones - that have been pushing for it for months. ... We are facing a huge transformation the scale of which is unimaginable for normal users at this point. It will mean that the free, talkative and uncompromising Internet we have known up to now will soon be history.”

Libération (FR) /

Algorithms can't solve the problem

Philosopher Eric Guichard and programmer Nicolas Schabanel evoke the dangers of the reform in Libération:

“How would such a law be applied? With gigantic algorithms. Article 13 stipulates that the service provider must work closely with the rightsholder to develop methods for recognising their content. Consequently, users who don't have accounts with Facebook, Sacem or an equivalent platform will be censored and as good as eliminated from the Web. ... The idea that machines could solve moral problems (linked to theft and intellectual property) shows above all that politicians are shirking their responsibility and seeking to leave it to machines to find answers to issues that should be debated democratically by all of us.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Publishers must assume more responsibility

MEP Michał Boni (PO/EPP) warns in Gazeta Wyborcza that Article 13 of the copyright reform puts major restrictions on Internet freedom:

“I'm in favour of introducing the new copyright law. But only under the condition that an agreement is reached on Article 13: the rights of authors must be harmonised with those of users. Otherwise there is the danger of uncontrolled filtering and deletion of content. The accountability of websites must not be greater than the obligations of publishing houses - but that's what the draft law foresees. The latter should find out for themselves which content requires a licence and which doesn't. In this way a majority will be found for authors' rights in the European Parliament - and not against us, the users.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Democracy needs informed citizens

The Internet lobby's campaign against the copyright reform is based on a deliberate distortion of reality, Corriere della Sera fumes:

“The campaign even went as far as talking of gagging. A gag on users who would be robbed of the freedom to publish content on the Internet. With the consequence that public debate would be stifled. The truth is, however, that the risk we are taking is precisely the opposite. The continuous plundering of high-quality content is making its production ever more difficult and expensive. The death of newspapers across the Atlantic and here in Europe demonstrates this. ... You don't have to be Jürgen Habermas to understand how important 'informed public debate' is. It's the basis for informed public opinion - and by extension for democracy.”

Verslo žinios (LT) /

Vote to give media a future

Business paper Verslo žinios also wants to see the directive go through:

“The fake news about alleged restrictions on access to information for normal Internet users which is currently being spread with a good deal of financial backing shows what kind of future awaits us without independent, competing media. The disappropriation of content from which the big Internet companies are currently benefiting will unquestionably lead to the demise of editing departments and publishing companies. ... Creators of content - journalists, commentators, authors - must be remunerated for their work. ... The European Parliament will vote on the media's chances for the future. For this reason Verslo žinios calls on the MEPs delegated by the Lithuanian people to give their votes to those chances for the future.”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

Freedom always has its price

The reform is vital, columnist Ferruccio de Bortoli stresses in Corriere del Ticino:

“The opponents of the directive point to the freedom of the Internet, which in their view would be restricted. Someone even talked of it being gagged. But without rules that acknowledge the work of authors there can be no freedom. And above all there would be no freedom for citizens to be adequately informed and have access to high-quality content that naturally has its price. If all content is for free, users pay an 'invisible price': they are robbed of their data and they no longer have freedom in their consumption of content.”

Le Journal du Dimanche (FR) /

Defending common values

A reform of copyright law is sorely needed, French Cultural Minister Françoise Nyssen and more than 200 personalities from the cultural sector argue in Le Journal du Dimanche:

“France is the land of copyright. It is here that it was born and it is here that it has been improved upon for over two centuries, with immense fervour and inventiveness, in order to keep up with social developments. ... Copyright is in danger today, in France and all over the world. And with it, our entire model is endangered. We, personalities of the cultural sector, are convinced that action can best be taken at the European level. ... We are at a historic turning point. In this vote Europe's ability to defend its collective interests and values in the global digital environment is at stake.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Memes have a future

The copyright reform won't have negative consequences for the Internet phenomenon of "memes", Večernji list believes:

“Opponents of the reform fear that if it is passed there will be a 'link tax' which would mean that the viral photo-video-text jokes known as memes would be prohibited. They also fear that new automatic filters on major Internet platforms would lead to censorship. But the EU has explained that this criticism is not based on facts. Memes would not be banned because the directive that is already in force makes an exception for satire stipulating that it does not infringe copyright. This won't change under the new proposal, the European Commission has said.”