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European Parliament approves controversial copyright directive

The new rules for copyright in the digital age are one step closer to final adoption.

Background: The new copyright directive for the digital age, proposed by the European Commission in September 2016, has been one of the most controversial pieces of legislation of the EC’s Digital Single Market initiatives. Contrasting views on issues such as the remuneration for press publishers by online platforms, and on requirements to take down unauthorised content and prevent future uploads, have resulted in lengthy negotiations for more than two years. So much so, that the plenary of the EU Parliament rejected the first agreed text in July 2018.

Today’s vote: The EU Parliament has now voted on the new text resulting from the trilogue negotiations between Parliament itself, Commission, and Council. The result was far from guaranteed, as controversy remained around several points of the final text, and the option to vote on individual amendments was rejected by only five votes. The final text does not mention the controversial upload filters, but does retain obligations for platforms to ensure unauthorised content is not uploaded.

Next steps: The new directive is not in force as it will need the formal approval of the European Council. As is the case for all Directives, member states will have to pass legislation individually to implement it; this could result in significant fragmentation due to the diverging views legislators have shown on the matter.