Brussels
14 June 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon

‘Alternative compromises’ for Digital Single Market reforms blocked


A Belgian member of European Parliament who sought to introduce “alternative compromises” to EU copyright reforms, including increased censorship and content filters, has been defeated.

Pascal Arimont attempted to pass amendments to legislation that is part of the EU’s Digital Single Market reforms and was under the consideration of the internal market and consumer protection committee.

German member of European Parliament Julia Reda said that Arimont’s amendments read like the “wish list of the content industry, with utter disregard for the Charter of Fundamental Rights and long established principles of EU law”.

Arimont wanted to increase regulation among content platforms, and double down on their obligations to filter content. The original proposal suggests that content providers hosting “large amounts” of copyright content should be required to install content filtering systems.

Under Arimont’s amendments, any service facilitating the availability of such content, even if it is not actually hosting it, but merely linking to other websites.

Reda said that the only exception to this would be for micro-businesses no older than five years.

“If you’ve been self-employed for more than five years, rules the European Commission wrote with the likes of YouTube and Facebook in mind would suddenly also apply to your website,” Reda said.

Another facet of the EU Digital Single Market reforms is the controversial 20-year link right for publishers.

Reda, who has advocated against the right, said that, “tragically, the committee tasked to defend consumer rights could not agree to come out against the planned extra copyright for news sites that independent experts unanimously slammed and called ‘an interference with freedom of speech’”.

The right would allow 20 years of protection for the use of news snippets in digital form, requiring permission from the link’s original publisher.

Arimont proposed this right be extended to 50 years, which Reda said would result in allowing publishers to request remuneration for linking to a headline from the Cold War era.

This amendment was also blocked as part of Arimont’s “alternative compromises”.

The legal affairs committee still needs to scrutinise the legislation, which is expected to be completed by September.

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