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EU copyright reforms pit the creative industry against internet activists, consumers

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – the european creative industries are urging the EU legislators to back a proposed overhaul of the bloc’s copyright rules, which makes them at odds with internet activists who oppose a requirement to install filters to block copyrighted material.

FILE PHOTO: People protest against the proposed EU copyright reform in Berlin, Germany, March 23, 2019. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

The European Commission wants to reform copyright rules for the protection of the cultural heritage of Europe and a fair compensation to publishers, broadcasters and artists. The European Parliament is due to vote on the proposal from the Commission Tuesday.

More than a thousand artists have signed an online petition calling on EU legislators to endorse the revision, while others ran op-eds in newspapers in support of the changes, the lobbying group Impala said in a statement.

Artists in favor of the proposed changes are film producers Pedro Almodovar and Michel Hazanavicius, Benny Andersson of Abba and writer Ali Smith, as well as independent record labels.

A vote in favour by the European Parliament would pave the way for the reforms to become law.

Google, internet activists and European technology start-ups, however, oppose the overhaul and were joined on Monday by the consumer lobbying body BEUC.

A requirement for Google’s YouTube, Facebook’s Instagram and other sharing platforms to install filters to catch violations of the copyright referred to in Article 13, but now renumbered to Article 17, has led to protests, an online petition www.savetheinternet.info the gathering of more than 5 million signatures so far.

Google’s senior vice-president for global affairs Kent Walker said: this article can be an indication online platforms to over-block content, to reduce legal risks.

Critics also say the filters are expensive and can lead to erroneous blocking.

Publishers, artists, and actors had initially also been vocal critics of the proposal from the Commission to rewrite the copyright rules, but reversed their position after successfully lobbying for Google to pay them for the use of their work online.

BEUC said it is against the copyright law reform, with the argument that the consumer is not able to share photos and vacation videos with background music as well as automated filtering is the norm.

“This is not the modernized copyright law that creators and consumers need, but rather an attempt to protect an industry that still has resistance to cope with the impact of technological changes on their business model,” BEUC Director-General Monique Goyens said in a statement.

The European Parliament’s approval is the last step in a process that the European Commission kicked off two years ago.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Susan Fenton

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