EU lawmakers put off copyright negotiations

Strasbourg – The European Parliament voted Thursday to postpone negotiations on controversial copyright reforms, amid sharp disagreement on the proposal which aims to help remunerate artists and news publishers for work shared online.

The measures, proposed by the European Commission in 2016, are part of an overhaul of EU copyright rules, which date back to 2001 and are no longer appropriate to the internet era, according to the European Union’s executive.

Narrow vote

The plans have come under attack, however, for curbing access to information online.

EU lawmakers narrowly voted – by 318 to 278 – against launching negotiations with EU member states on the proposed reforms, during a plenary session in the French city of Strasbourg.

The EU legislature is now expected to revisit the issue in September and vote on possible compromises. It could also reject the proposal entirely at that stage.

Concerns over internet freedoms

Among other things, the reforms stipulate that online platforms such as YouTube would have to check contents as they are being uploaded to see if they are protected by copyright. This can be done by a type of software called an upload filter.

Platforms such as Google would also be prevented from reproducing headlines or snippets from news articles without express permission and possibly also a payment.

Critics argue that the measures endanger internet freedoms.

“This is a big decision in the fight to prevent large-scale and systematic filtering of online content from becoming the norm,” said Monique Goyens of the European Consumer Organization.

But conservative EU lawmaker Axel Voss regretted the “false arguments” against the reforms, noting that the measures would provide legal certainty, prevent copyright infringements and protect journalism.