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European Parliament Passes Digital Copyright Reforms

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The European Parliament on Wednesday approved a controversial digital copyright directive that will require tech giants to pay artists and journalists when their work is used by sharing platforms such as YouTube or Facebook, or news aggregators such as Google News.

The tech giants could also be forced to install filters to block copyrighted content from being uploaded.

The Parliament's position for talks with EU member states to hammer out a final deal was approved by 438 votes to 226, with 39 abstentions. It makes some important changes to the June committee proposal.

Axel Voss, rapporteur and member of the European Parliament, said, "I am very glad that despite the very strong lobbying campaign by the internet giants, there is now a majority in the full house backing the need to protect the principle of fair pay for European creatives."

According to a European Parliament statement, changes to the European Commission's original June proposal are intended to ensure that artists, notably musicians, performers and script authors, as well as news publishers and journalists, are paid for their work when it is used by sharing platforms and news aggregators.

These tech giants could be severely impacted by the new law, since they rely on user-generated content. The new legislation could now force the tech giants to install filters to prevent copyright protected content from being uploaded. It would also make them liable for copyright infringements.

This would also apply to snippets, where only a small part of a news publisher's text is displayed. In practice, this liability requires these parties to pay right holders for copyrighted material that they make available.

However, merely sharing hyperlinks to articles, together with "individual words" to describe them, will be free of copyright constraints. In order to encourage start-ups and innovation, the text now exempts small and micro platforms from the directive.

Following approval by the European Parliament, the directive now sets parameters for talks between European Parliament, the European Commission, and a collective of the leaders of EU member states known as the European Council.

After going through this process, the directive will still require each individual EU member state to decide on how they will implement the new rules.

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