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by Jenni Davidson
20 June 2018
New EU copyright rules could ‘break the internet’, Labour MEP warns

New EU copyright rules could ‘break the internet’, Labour MEP warns

Catherine Stihler MEP - Image credit: EP audiovisual

New European copyright rules could “break the internet” and harm journalism, a Labour MEP has claimed.

Labour MEP for Scotland Catherine Stihler, who is vice-chair of the European Parliament’s internal market committee, is urging fellow MEPs to reject changes to EU copyright law.
The directive would force internet platforms such as YouTube and Facebook to introduce tough restrictions on users uploading material such as memes or GIFs.

Sites would be forced to install technology to automatically recognise and block pieces of work that it thinks belong to someone other than the person sharing it.

Other popular activities such as listening to music remixes online or sharing videos of people singing at karaoke could also be removed from the web, as the technology would filter out material it thinks breach copyright rules.

The proposed overhaul would also give news publishers more control over the digital use of their content. 

This could mean that social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook would have fewer links to genuine news stories, allowing fake news to become more dominant. 
The MEP warned that when similar rules were introduced in Spain, traffic to websites of small and medium sized news publishers fell by up to 30 per cent, impacting on local journalists, and Google News largely withdrew from the market.

Stihler said: “After a long-running debate about copyright, this is finally coming to a vote and I urge MEPs to reject this overzealous proposal which could break the internet.
“The way we read news has changed dramatically, and I want to protect journalists in Scotland and the UK and prevent the spread of fake news on sites like Twitter and Facebook.

“This new directive could decrease traffic to websites for quality media outlets and harm journalism.
“The crackdown on memes and other online material could stifle creative talent, meaning artists, musicians, and writers who upload content might find it is deleted without their consent.”

A vote on the new copyright law will be taken by the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee today and if passed will proceed to a full vote of MEPs later in the year.

If passed, the law would continue to affect the UK after Brexit as companies such as Google and Twitter would have to conform to the legislation to be able to operate across Europe.

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