The European Parliament has voted against an incredibly controversial new set of copyright rules that campaigners claim could “ban memes”.

The proposed rules would have put more responsibility on websites to check for copyright infringements, and forced platforms to pay for linking to news.

The change was back by a number of high-profile music stars, including David Guetta. The new law would have protected them and their art from being used without permission.

But opponents said the copyright law would stifle internet freedom and creativity.


What were they campaigning against?

The move was intended to bring the EU’s copyright laws in line with the digital age, but led to protests from websites and much debate before it was rejected by a margin of 318 – 278 in the European Parliament on Thursday.

There will now be a full reconsideration and debate regarding the law inside the parliament, during which activists will try and remove controversial Article 11 and 13.

Article 11 would have introduced a “link tax” to protect news organisations. Article 13 would put a great responsibility on websites to enforce copyright law (i.e filters on text, images, sounds, videos).

There were concerns that copyright filters would put an end to viral internet content like memes, parodies and remixes. Remixes like this tend to use copyrighted material.

Though the ruling has merely delayed the final decision, internet activists hailed this as a victory. They also  mentioned that the work of campaigners helped turn them against automatic scanning of posts.

The European Parliament will reconvene to make a decision on this issue in September.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales criticised the revamp, alongside World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, and many others.

“Round one of the Robo-Copyright wars is over,” said Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group. “The EU Parliament has recognised that machine censorship of copyright material is not an easy and simple fix. They’ve heard the massive opposition, including internet blackouts and 750,000 people petitioning them against these proposals.

“Everyone across Europe who wants this fixed will have to work hard to make sure that Parliament comes up with a sensible way forward by September.

“We congratulate our members for their hard work, and Julia Reda, Catherine Stihler, EDRi and others who have led the fight in Europe to stop these dreadful proposals.”

Copyright campaigners said they would continue to fight for the protections in the copyright law.


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