European Parliament approves new copyright rules which may impact the internet


A series of changes that may have wide-ranging effects for the internet have been approved by the European Parliament.

The legislation intends to make larger companies directly liable for content posted on their platforms, such as on Facebook or other social media.

Here’s some of the changes that this ruling has approved:

  • Technology platform owners will be encouraged to identify content that may infringe copyright and pre-emptively remove them from their platforms.
  • Links to news articles may require licensing if the description of the news article consists of more than one word.
  • Coverage of sports events will only be permitted in the case of the organisers of said events.

In addition, the two following proposals were refused:

  • The ‘right of panorama’, aka the right to use photographs of public places.
  • User generated content exception, aka the right to use short excerpts of works without the creators permission for transformative or other satirical means.

This ruling has caused no small amount of concern amongst companies and individuals which rely on the internet for traffic or business. Danny O’Brien, an analyst for Electronic Frontier Foundation said of the ruling: “We’re enormously disappointed that MEPs (Members of European Parliament) failed to listen to the concerns of their constituents and the wider Internet”.

The specific issues raised by those in opposition to the changes brought in by this ruling are as follows:

  • Pre-emptively blocking content that may appear to infringe copyright will cause issues related to fair usage, satire, or may affect content that is only similar to copyrighted material.
  • This also shifts the balance of power to copyright holders, who will be able to order removal of potentially infringing content much easier than before, and potentially automatically do so.
  • Linking to news usually requires more than one word to do so, and limiting this may hamstring the ability to criticise or comment on current events.
  • In addition, news sources can refuse licences, therefore limited who can comment or link to news.
  • Sports events organisers have received the ability restrict the ability to post video or photographs taken by fans at said events.
  • Usage of pictures of public places will not have to be authorised by the architects of said places.
  • The ability to create memes, transformative, or satirical works based on existing material may be restricted under this legislation.

The full press release issued by the European Parliament can be seen here.