The EU countries back copyright reform aimed at Google, Facebook

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – the countries of the European Union on Wednesday approved an overhaul of the bloc’s copyright rules, which would force Google and Facebook Inc to pay publishers for news articles and filter copyrighted content on YouTube or Instagram.

FILE PHOTO: A European union flag is seen outside the EU Commission in Brussels, Belgium, November 14, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

A majority of EU diplomats agreed to the renewal, while Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Poland refused to back the deal and two other EU countries abstained from the vote.

Negotiators of the EU-countries, the European Parliament and the European Commission ended with a deal from last week, two years after the EU executive proposed changes to the protection of the block, the cultural heritage and to ensure that publishers, broadcasters and artists to be compensated fairly.

Romania, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, said in a tweet that the copyright agreement was approved by the Council of the EU.

The different countries, said the proposed changes could hinder innovation and hurt the bloc’s competitiveness in the digital market.

“We regret that the Directive does not strike the right balance between the protection of rightsholders and the interests of EU citizens and companies,” they said in a joint statement.

The next step in the process is a vote by a committee of lawmakers next week, followed by a parliamentary vote, either next month or early April, before the changes in law can be.

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The renewal, which would require Google and other online platforms to sign licensing agreements with the rights holders, such as musicians, artists, authors, publishers, and journalists to use their work online.

Google’s YouTube and Facebook’s Instagram and other sharing platforms to install upload filters to prevent users uploading copyrighted material.

Google, which has lobbied against both functions and has even been suggested that it would be able to pull Google News out of Europe, said last week would be the study of the text before deciding on the next steps.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee. Editing by Jane Merriman

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