By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU lawmakers will vote next Tuesday on whether to endorse an overhaul of the bloc’s two-decade old copyright rules as Google and internet activists stepped up their criticism of a requirement to install copyright filters.
The European Parliament’s approval is the final step in a process which the European Commission kicked off two years ago with a proposal to protect Europe’s cultural heritage and ensure publishers, broadcasters and artistes get fair compensation from big online companies.
The proposed rules would force Google and other online platforms to sign licensing deals with musicians, performers, authors, news publishers and journalists to use their work online.
A requirement for Google’s YouTube, Facebook’s Instagram and other sharing platforms to install filters to catch copyright violations known as Article 13 has triggered protests, with an online petition http://www.savetheinternet.info garnering more than 5 million signatures so far.
The article could prompt online platforms to over-block content to limit legal risks, Google senior vice-president for global affairs Kent Walker wrote in a blog post earlier this month.
“Article 13 could impact a large number of platforms, big and small, many of them European. Some may not be able to bear these risks,” Walker said.
EU lawmaker Julia Reda from the Pirate Party, who has spearheaded opposition to certain elements of the reforms, urged opponents to take part in Europe-wide protests on Saturday.
Critics say filters are costly and could lead to erroneous blocking. Last month, Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Poland refused to back the reforms.
Artists including film producers Pedro Almodovar and Michel Hazanavicius, Benny Andersson from Abba and author Ali Smith have come out in support of the overhaul.
Europe For Creators, which represents people and organisations from the creative industries, urged lawmakers to back the overhaul without any changes.
“Any amendment would mean breaking the trialogue agreement, leaving no time to reconsider a new text before the European elections, and leaving European citizens, businesses and the creative sector adrift in the Digital Single Market,” it said.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Jan Harvey)