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On 5 July the European Parliament rejected the Legal Committee's report 318:278. That means the Directive is subject to more debate in the plenary of the Parliament. The struggle for fair rewards for creators continues. See statement from the British Copyright Council here.

Crunch vote for copyright in Europe

TOMOROW - 5 July - the European Parliament votes on its response to a draft European Directive on authors' rights (copyright). Members of Parliament have been subjected to an onslaught of misleading propaganda - not least from people who oppose any kind of regulation of the internet.

They have focused on attacking two provisions in the draft Directive: one (Article 11) giving newspapers the right to demand licence fees from internet service providers such as Facebook and Google News; and another (Article 13) requiring commercial internet services either to get a licensing agreement for copyright works they host, or to screen uploads so that they don't host works without agreement.

Neither of these will, in fact break the internet. Wikipedia Italy turned itself off in protest against Article 13 - despite the fact that as a non-commercial service it is explicitly exempt. In general, the lobbying tactics have consisted of seeking the worst possible paranoiac interpretation of fragments of the proposal; warning against that, not the proposal as a whole; and raising funds against it. This is the technique that was pioneered at scale by the US National Rifle Association. THe addition is the use of automated-anger systems to deluge Members of the European Parliament with thousands of emails.

The British Copyright Council issued a statement, with input from the NUJ, noting that "Those seeking to stop Parliament's proposals going forward for debate with the European Council claim a number of fictions... The facts are more prosaic: the new laws seek simply to give commercial platforms (not non-commercial services, such an online encyclopaedias) an obligation to ensure in-copyright works are exploited legally and in a way that returns a fair rate of reward to their creators and right-holders.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has agreed with newspaper publishers' associations that any income from the new right must be shared fairly with journalists: see this statement.

As chair of the EFJ Authors' Right Expert Group I wrote to most UK MEPs as follows. You may want to write a customised message to yours: you can find them here if you're in the UK.

I am writing to ask you to vote to accept the JURI report on the proposal for a Digital Single Market Directive.

There has been much scare-mongering about this. I believe that none of the fears raised are justified; and I write that as someone who, as well as campaigning for the rights of authors to fair remuneration for our work, has been involved in using and building internet technology since 1988.

Specifically, I note:

  • yesterday's finding by the European Data Protection Supervisor that the monitoring requirements in Article 13 are proportionate (the caveat being - contrary to what you may be told by lobbyists who oppose regulation of any kind - that this depends on correct transposition by Member States);
  • that the European Federation of Journalists can support the measure set out in Article 11 to prevent free-riding by internet corporations on newspapers, so long as there is a guarantee that a fair share of income from this is distributed to journalists through democratically-controlled collecting societies, which we are confident there will be; and
  • that the "transparency triangle" proposals in Articles 14, 15 and 16 provide a basis for authors and performers to receive the fair payment that we need in order to continue to work as dedicated professionals making high-quality contributions to culture and - in the case of journalists - to democracy, through ethical independent news reporting.

You may want to look at these statements: