European Parliament Committee’s Vote in Favour of Copyright Law Threatens Online Speech and Innovation

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Today, the European Parliament Legal Affairs Committee voted by a narrow majority in favour of the controversial Copyright Directive proposal, which includes upload filtering obligations (Article 13) and an ancillary right for press publishers, also known as the ‘link tax’ (Article 11). The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) has continuously warned about the potential consequences of these articles for the ability of European citizens to communicate freely and share and access information online.

“This outcome is very disappointing. The Copyright Directive is a misguided attempt to solve commercial disputes between large platforms, record labels, and press publishers. The real harm is now to all European citizens, who will be subject to pervasive online filtering and monitoring. The legislation will also impair small and medium-sized enterprises and start-up companies as a result of new risks, costs, and technical challenges if these rules are formally adopted,” said Jens-Henrik Jeppesen, CDT’s European Affairs Director.

The Committee made only minor changes to the original draft legislation published by the European Commission in September 2016. MEPs ignored far more balanced and sensible solutions put forward by other Parliament Committees.

The Committee majority voted in spite of the strong objections of more than one hundred MEPs from across the political spectrum. It ignored advice from more than a hundred European academics and legal experts. It disregarded warnings from the UN Special Rapporteur on free expression, European and international human rights and digital rights groups, and dozens of internet pioneers and innovators from around the world.

In view of the upcoming negotiations with Council and a plenary vote in the European Parliament, CDT will continue to work with policymakers in the months ahead on achieving an outcome that does not impinge on fundamental rights to free expression and access to information.

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