Facebook and Google (and memes) safe from copyright law – for now

Web giants are breathing a sigh of relief following a vote against overhauling the EU’s copyright law by MEPs.

Google, Facebook and other tech firms would have been forced to share more of their revenues with publishers and artists had the copyright directive been passed.

While those for the move, including Sir Paul McCartney, argued it would help musicians get paid fairly for their work, the directive had ignited controversy with campaigners, who warned it would lead to the creation of upload filters and the banning of memes on the internet.

The campaign against the directive focused on a particular provision, Article 13, saying online platforms would be economically damaged if they were forced to comply with its expensive obligations.

EDiMA, the trade body which represents the interests of Google and Facebook in the EU, welcomed the vote – saying it risked creating a censorship regime.

Axel Voss, the German MEP who attempted to bring in the directive, said internet organisations had used false arguments against the copyright law.

He was joined in his complaints by publishers EMMA, ENPA, EPC and NME, and the Society of Audiovisual Authors, who issued a joint statement.

“Four European Parliament committees have scrutinised, clarified, amended and approved the EU Copyright Reform over the past two years,” they said.

“Today those efforts to create a fairer, more sustainable digital ecosystem for the benefit of creators, distributors and consumers have been jeopardised.”

The European Parliament will be able to consider the law again in September.

Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda celebrated the vote and encouraged others to be prepared for the new draft in September, saying: “We will not accept a copyright reform that includes upload filters or the link tax.”

A European Commission spokesperson previously told Sky News: “The idea behind our copyright proposals is that people should be able to make a living from their creative ideas.

“The proposals to modernise EU copyright provisions will not harm freedom of expression on the internet.

“They take into account technological developments that have already been introduced by some of the major players and which help in two ways.

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