//EU approves controversial copyright directive targeting Google, Facebook and Twitter

EU approves controversial copyright directive targeting Google, Facebook and Twitter



The European Parliament supported a very restrictive copyright directive directed at traditional European publishers and copyright holders to the detriment of the content generated by copyright US users and Internet companies, including Google. An earlier version of the directive was rejected in July.

The new rules must be approved by the Member States before they can enter into force. Designed to harmonize disparate laws on copyright in the EU, the new directive contains two particularly controversial provisions:

Article 11 would require permission and license rights when content extracts are presented.
Article 13 would require platforms such as Google / YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and others to monitor potential copyright infringements in a much more aggressive manner or to engage their liability . These sites would be forced to scan the content to detect violations before downloading.

Many of the largest publishers and entertainment companies in Europe strongly supported or lobbied for the rules . Article 11 could have a major impact on Google's index and what it can show in search results, especially rich snippets. European publishers basically want to be paid when Google displays more than links to their content.

Here is what the EU said about Article 11:

Parliament's position hardens the Commission's plans to make online platforms and aggregators responsible for copyright infringement. This would also apply to code snippets, where only a small portion of the text of a news editor is displayed. In practice, this responsibility obliges these parties to pay rights holders for the copyrighted material that they make available. Parliament's text also requires that journalists themselves, and not only their publishing houses, receive remuneration from this obligation of accountability.

The actual links will apparently be exempt from licensing requirements and small start-ups will also not be subject to the strict provisions of the new rules. The Directive provides that textual links "accompanied by" individual words "may be freely shared without an agreed license agreement. "[M] the sharing of hypertext links with articles, as well as" individual words "to describe them, will be free from any copyright restrictions."

Non-commercial online resources, such as Wikipedia, as well as "open source software platforms" (eg, GitHub) will not be subject to liability. However, if it is ratified by EU members, Google and Facebook will be held responsible for any violations, including user-generated content (think: YouTube).

Clause 13 requires platforms such as YouTube and Facebook to prevent "illegal" downloading of copyrighted content. This would force the platforms to crawl the content before allowing the download. The problem is that this would result in "censorship" by the big platforms, because they do not want to risk their responsibility. The current system requires a notice of violation before a withdrawal.

The new rules are a kind of "copyright RGPD", which could disrupt the way big Internet companies treat content, create user-generated content and share that content . It remains to be seen whether the Directive is approved by the Member States, but it is likely that this will be the case.

About the author

Greg Sterling is a writer with Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk on the link between digital media and consumer behavior in the real world. He is also vice president of strategy and prospects for the local research association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+ .