MEPs reject controversial EU copyright reforms, to the joy of tech giants around the world

Emily Nicolle
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It's a win for tech, and a loss for the music industry
It's a win for tech, and a loss for the music industry (Source: Getty)

The European parliament has voted to reject draft reforms to the EU's refreshed copyright directive, which has been the subject of controversy from major tech firms in recent weeks.

Campaigners like Google, Youtube and the founder of the worldwide web, Tim Berners Lee, issued petitions to the government body arguing against the vague nature of the directive, blasting it as sloppy writing. Earlier this week, Wikipedia blacked out its sites in Italy and Spain in favour of a message asking its users to join it in protest.

Read more: EU approves controversial Copyright Directive, despite major tech backlash

In a vote to reopen the debate surrounding the directive, MEPs voted 318 to 278 in favour. This means the bill will now face further scrutiny and debate by MEPs, rather than being put on the fast track to legislation.

Under its current guise, the directive would have forced online publications to pay a portion of their revenues to publishers, and take on full responsibility for any copyright infringement on the internet.

As a result, any service that allows users to post text, sound, or video for public consumption must also implement an automatic filter to scan for similarities to known copyrighted works, censoring those that match.

Read more: The EU's ‘carpet bomb’ copyright law heads to Brussels, as backlash mounts

However many major companies in the publishing and music industries have been working hard in favour of the regulation, which would have enabled record labels to claim back some of the revenue they say has been lost by existing “safe harbour” liability privileges for streaming sites like Youtube.

A recent report from music industry body IFPI suggested that Youtube returned less than $1 (75p) for each music user to record companies in 2017, compared to Spotify’s average of $20 per user.

Beatles star Sir Paul McCartney wrote a letter to Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) yesterday, urging them to support the bill, as he argued the value gap left between the two "jeopardizes the music ecosystem".

Read more: Help! Sir Paul McCartney calls on MEPs to vote for key copyright bill

A petition against the reforms led by some MEPs, called Save Your Internet, gathered over 700,000 signatures before the vote this morning.

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