Content companies dismiss criticism of EU copyright overhaul

EU copyright
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BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Europe’s music, broadcasting and publishing industries have hit back at internet critics of an EU overhaul of copyright rules, saying claims the reforms might lead to the demise of the internet amount to misinformation and scaremongering.

Both sides have ramped up their lobbying this week ahead of a crucial vote on July 5 that will determine the European Parliament’s position on the reforms, which aim to make tech giants such as Google and Facebook share revenues.

Lawmakers are expected to take their cue from a key committee that last week voted in favor of tougher copyright rules, though the campaigning could swing the vote.

Parliament’s stance will in the coming months need to be reconciled with that adopted by EU countries and the European Commission’s proposal announced two years ago, which seeks to take into account the growing role of online platforms.

The debate has coalesced around two points.

Article 11 – or the so-called neighboring right for press publishers – could force Google, Microsoft and others to pay publishers for displaying news snippets.

Article 13 – or mandatory upload filtering – would require online platforms such as YouTube, GitHub, and Instagram to install filters to prevent users from uploading copyrighted materials or seek licences to display content.

“There is a cynical campaign from tech companies flooding the inboxes of lawmakers with scaremongering that the copyright directive would be the end of the internet,” said lobbying group Impala, which represents independent music labels and national trade associations.

“Please note that this is the 20th anniversary of their first claim that copyright provisions would break the internet. This has never happened,” the group said.

European broadcasters are similarly scathing of criticism from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, net neutrality expert Tim Wu, internet pioneer Vint Cerf and others regarding the EU’s copyright reforms.

“This is a driven campaign of misinformation actively funded by Big Tech. This has nothing to do with censorship and everything to do with creating a sustainable internet,” said Gregoire Polad, director general at the Association of Commercial Television in Europe.

Publishers are tired of online companies free-riding on their content and want their own legal standing to tackle the issue, said Angela Mills Wade of the European Publishers Council.

However, German lawmaker Julia Reda, part of the Greens group in the parliament, urged her peers to reject the committee’s proposal, saying it would burden small companies rather than their bigger rivals.

“This proposal is impossible to comply with. It will damage the way we communicate online,” she said.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Mark Potter)

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