EU copyright changes can disrupt the way popular websites work

EU copyright changes can disrupt the way popular websites work
The European Union might be an ocean away from the United States, but what happens there can sometimes have an effect globally. One event that might have consequences beyond the borders of the EU is the upcoming vote on changes to its copyright law. There are two parts of the law that have sparked controversy over the last months: Articles 11 and 13.

Article 11 is arguably less concerning for people, since it mostly concerns news publishers. According to the proposed changes, any website that posts links to news articles with added text from them, usually called snippets, will have to pay the publisher of the article a fee for using its content (EU is arguing snippets won't be affected, but the text leaves that possibility). For example, if a Facebook user decides to share an article on the social network and there’s an auto-generated preview with a thumbnail and a couple of sentences from the piece, Facebook will have to pay a fee to the linked website. While that might sound like good for news outlets, practice shows it has the opposite effect. In Spain, where a similar law was passed, the changes led to a sharp decrease in news sharing (Google decided to shut down its News service in the country rather than pay fees), which caused a drop in revenue for publishers and hindered news accessibility for readers.

Article 13, however, has a much bigger potential impact. In essence, it’s meant to prevent misuse of copyrighted content by shifting the responsibility from the users to the websites. Currently, websites that allow users to upload content warn them to not upload copyrighted materials. Of course, that still happens, and websites remove any after a request by the copyright holder. Big websites, like YouTube, already have automatic systems in place to remove infringing content, based on agreements with publishers.

If the changes are passed, YouTube, Reddit and any other platforms that let you upload files that are publicly visible, will have to monitor all content all the time. They will also have to remove anything copyrighted no matter if the right holder is against the particular use of its intellectual property (some musicians purposely allow all uploads of their music to stay on YouTube). Because this process will likely be automated, opponents of the law fear that the software will be unable to detect uses of copyrighted content under “fair use” and call the future content-scanning bots “censorship machines”. This means that using pieces of a copyrighted song or video for commentary purposes or parody can cause removal of the content.

While websites can easily diversify traffic coming from EU nations, implementing special rules for a particular user group can cause chaos on some platforms, which is why most websites are strongly opposing the new law. Smaller websites will have to pour resources into specialized software, which might hurt their profitability and competitiveness. If the vote succeeds, it might not be long before music labels and movie studios start pressuring US lawmakers to make similar changes.

During the initial vote in July, the proposed articles didn’t get enough support and were subjected to changes, the second vote on them is today (Wednesday).


Members of the EU Parliament voted in favor of the proposed changes, 438 vs 226 votes. This will initiate further discussions and potential amendments to the articles before a final vote in January 2019.

via: BBC



1. yalokiy

Posts: 958; Member since: Aug 01, 2016

Sounds like a bad law.

5. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Normally I like the EU for sticking up for its people, like the GDPR But these two are just terrible. Spain already made it mandatory for websites to pay up for news snippets. And Google News is no longer active there. And Spanish news sites lost 15% to 30% of their visitors. This will happen in the entire EU because of this s**tty ruling

2. djcody

Posts: 227; Member since: Apr 17, 2013

Another socialist idea, thats what liberals do best.

3. deewinc

Posts: 455; Member since: Feb 21, 2013

Such a law is punitive.

4. AfterShock

Posts: 4146; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

Pull out of Europe. They can make all the fair use laws they want out of what's left.

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