​New EU copyright law threatens YouTubers and other creators

The EU has voted to pass a new, controversial copyright law which critics argue will threaten the very nature of the open internet


EU MEPs are facing criticism for passing the European Union Copyright Directive (EUCD) which will instate sweeping new rules meant to update and help enforce online copyright laws. While the law is being framed by its proponents as a win for content creators, critics on social media platforms such as Reddit claim it will be "catastrophic" for the open internet.

The original directive was rejected in July 2018 when details regarding the law went viral and sparked widespread outrage. This spurred many people to get in contact with their MEPs, many of whom admitted they had not properly read the new law they were about to vote on. Two specific provisions of the EUCD where vehemently opposed too: Article 11, dubbed the "link tax", was meant to give publishers and other original content producing sites the ability to make money when Google and other sites linked to their content. Article 13, or the "upload filter", would put greater impetus on platforms such as YouTube and Facebook to prevent the upload of unlicensed copyrighted material.

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However, despite the initial rejection, the language in this iteration of the EUCD has not changed significantly, and both Article 11 and 13 still exist fundamentally in their original form. The directive has also been criticized for being too broad and unclear, hence, too open to interpretation. Because of this, concerns around issues such as whether creators will still be able to use copyrighted material under the "fair-use" clause (which does not appear in the new law) have many creators worried.

Larger organizations such as Google and Microsoft have yet to criticize the law directly, however, representatives from Twitter and Reddit have released statements in stark opposition to the law. One of the EUCD's most critical opponents has been Wikimedia which has said the new law will "entrench outdated copyright policies and impose even greater barriers to access to knowledge online".

The Copyright Directive will face one final vote in January 2019, meaning European Union citizens will have one last chance to contact their representatives. However, experts believe the law is very unlikely to be rejected, meaning it will largely come down to how member states to decide to interpret the directive's text.

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