The European Parliament rejected a controversial copyright directive that, according to some commentators’ interpretations and in its existing form, would have imposed a “link tax” on search engines and demanded online platforms “filter” uploaded content for copyright infringements.
According to Julia Reda, an MEP of the Pirate Party and a critic of the proposal, the vote presented two options to MEPs: vote in favor of the existing copyright proposal including Articles 11 and 13 or vote in favor of a full plenary debate and the possibility to vote on changes in the second week of September.
Consequently, 278 MEPs voted for the former while 318 voted for the latter. There were 31 abstentions. The next vote will likely take place between 10th and 13th of September.
Reacting to the vote, Reda stated, “Great success: Your protests have worked! The European Parliament has sent the copyright law back to the drawing board. All MEPs will get to vote on ‘upload filters’ and the ‘link tax’ September 10–13.”
Meanwhile, the proposals rapporteur, Axel Voss stated, ““I regret that a majority of MEPs did not support the position which I and the Legal Affairs Committee have been advocating. But this is part of the democratic process.
“We will now return to the matter in September for further consideration and attempt to address peoples’ concerns whilst bringing our copyright rules up to date with the modern digital environment.”
Andrus Ansip, the European Commission’s Vice President for the Digital Single Market stated, “will re-draw opinion on copyright. Let us now stop the lobby slogans & start looking for solutions.”
He then went on to discuss what happens next and stated:
“We should not accept any compromise that endangers freedom of expression or hyperlinking” however he also went onto say “we should not accept leaving artists and quality media unprotected.”
The proposal has attracted widespread criticism from non-profit organizations and internet activists. Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the WWW, was among 70 “internet pioneers” who drafted an open letter to the President of the European Parliament stating the new proposal risked turning the internet into “a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.”
Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, which yesterday announced site-wide protests against the reforms, told the BBC in the aftermath of the vote:
“Don’t think about filtering everything everyone uploads to the internet. That’s a pipe dream but you are never going to get that.”
Meanwhile, many in the music industry have criticized activists’ and tech platforms’ reactions to the proposals.
Last week UK Music CEO, Michael Dugher, accused Google of writing “absolute rubbish” about the reforms. He also accused them of making “ludicrous suggestions” about the “end of memes” and user-generated content.