Yesterday the EU Parliament voted to reject the new Copyright Directive, forcing a full debate on the legislation in September.
The controversial provisions were Article 11 and Article 13. Article 11 provides for a "link tax" intended to ensure that news outlets are paid when other websites link to their content. Article 13 requires websites which store and publish "large amounts" of user generated content to only accept and publish copyright content under licence and to implement sophisticated content filtering software to prevent unauthorised uploading and publication of copyright works. Which all sounds very reasonable to anyone who respects copyright. However the Directive has faced strong opposition and the EU Parliament have refused to wave the Directive through without a full debate of the issues.
The BBC News article below does a good job of explaining the differing viewpoints in what has been a fiercely contested issue by lobbyists and commentators from creative and tech industries. Broadly speaking, the music and other creative industries are keen to see measures that would see artists generating more revenue from online dissemination of their work, while a broad spectrum of other stakeholders fear a chilling effect on basic linking and sharing functions of the internet, freedom of expression and competition among online platforms.
Whether the Directive can now complete its journey through the EU Parliament and Commission before Brexit remains to be seen. Regardless, given the nature of the internet, the outcome of future votes on the legislation could have a meaningful impact on UK creatives, businesses and internet users generally.
What happens next? The proposed directive is due to be revisited in September, with a European Parliament debate and possible changes. It's not yet known whether Articles 11 and 13 will be removed or amended. If eventually adopted by the European Parliament, the directive will be sent to the European Commission, which also has to approve it - a process that could take months. Usually, the Parliament and the Commission agree - but if they don't, they'll form a committee to try and reach consensus. Once they've both agreed and approved the directive, it has to be put into law by every member state on a country-by-country basis, in a process the EU calls transposition. That can take a year or two, as each country navigates its own legal and parliamentary system.