Public Knowledge Strongly Opposes Misguided EU Copyright Reform

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Today, the European Parliament voted 348 to 274 to approve the proposed Copyright Directive. This EU-wide legislation will impose draconian copyright obligations on nearly all internet services and companies, requiring content upload filters, convoluted and uncertain licensing agreements with the entertainment industries, and the payment of a link tax or new licensing fee to news incumbents. EU member states will likely move to ratify the proposal next.

Public Knowledge strongly opposes the mandates found in Article 17 (previously Article 13) and Article 11. Additionally, Public Knowledge urges both Congress and the Administration to ratify U.S. commitment to balanced copyright reform in the planned free trade agreement with the European Union. Doing so would limit the Copyright Directive’s international impact while supporting an Open Internet.

The following can be attributed to Gus Rossi, Global Policy Director at Public Knowledge:

“Today is a very sad day for the Open Internet. In adopting the Copyright Directive, the European Parliament has chosen to restrict legitimate online speech, entrench the power of dominant technology, entertainment, and media companies, while making it more difficult for everyone else to access and share trustworthy information.

“In a misguided effort to re-balance the online ecosystem, the European Union has plunged the Open Internet into uncertainty. No one today knows how any platform can meet the demands created by the Directive. None of the new licencing agreements are in place. No one knows exactly how to comply with the Directive. The problem is compounded by the fact that 27 member states will have different national implementations of the same European law, each likely favouring their own national interests and industries.

“The one good thing is that Europe now has become a natural experiment for mandatory licencing and filtering mandates on technology. We believe that this Directive will create more harm than good. The world should spend the next several years learning from the European experiment what these mandates cost the economy but also how they impact online speech, innovation, and creativity.”

You can read our latest blog post, “The Five Worst Things About the Proposed EU Copyright Directive,” for more information as well as our recent letter urging the EU to preserve free expression online.

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