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EU lawmakers back copyright law reforms targeting Google, Facebook

STRASBOURG (Reuters) – EU lawmakers have given for an overhaul of the bloc’s two-year-old copyright rules, which have the force of Google and Facebook Inc to pay publishers for use of headlines and they filter secure content.

Protesters take part in a protest in front of the European Parliament, the Members of the European Parliament on a debate on amendment of the EU copyright reforms in Strasbourg, France, March 26, 2019. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

The European Parliament behind the reforms by 348 votes to 274 on Tuesday after a debate that has pitted the european creative industry against tech companies, internet activists and consumer groups are concerned that the new rules can be too expensive and block much content.

The European Commission launched a revision of the rules two years ago in an attempt to protect an industry that is worth 915 billion euros ($1.03 billion) per year, accounting for 11.65 million jobs and 6.8 percent of the economy of the EU.

The Commission’s digital chief for Europe, Andrus Ansip welcomed the outcome, saying the reforms would improve the position of writers, journalists, singers, musicians and actors in relation to the large platforms that benefited from their content.

“Today’s vote provides the appropriate balance between the interests of all players – users, the creators, the authors, the press, while placing the proportionate obligations on online platforms,” he said in a statement.

But Google said that the reforms would lead to legal uncertainty and pain of Europe’s creative and digital economies. The European consumers ‘ organisation (BEUC) echoed the criticism.

“The consumer will have to bear the consequences of this decision. Their concerns had spoken, loud and clear, but members of the parliament have chosen to ignore them,” BEUC director-general Monique Goyens said.

Legislator Julia Reda, a prominent critic of the reforms, said they threatened the free internet.

“Algorithms can’t distinguish between the actual copyright infringement and perfectly legal re-use of content for purposes such as parody,” she said.

($1 = 0.8854 euros)

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Kirsten Donovan

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