EU copyright directive nearing final form as Google tests stripped-down news SERPs


The final language of the EU Copyright Directive will reportedly be released next week. The directive seeks to “harmonize” copyright law across Europe. However there are two provisions (Articles 11 & 13) that are highly problematic and have caused free-speech advocates and many online publishers grave concern:

  • Article 11 would require Google, Bing and other news aggregators to pay non-waivable licensing fees when short snippets of content are presented on their sites
  • Article 13 would require platforms like Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and others to monitor and proactively screen content uploads for potential copyright infringement or face liability.

Seeking a better deal for content creators. Proponents of the law argue that the directive will help create a fairer and more sustainable marketplace for content and news creators. They say they’re trying to strengthen the bargaining power of traditional publishers in their dealings with large internet companies, which they contend have built businesses “on the backs” of third party content and news publishers.

Critics assert that the law is vague and misguided. They also say it would replicate previously unsuccessful copyright reforms tried in Spain and Germany. In addition, the new law would dramatically increase censorship in the name of enforcing copyright protections, they argue.

Big publishers vs. small publishers. Many of Europe’s biggest publishers and entertainment companies lobbied for and strongly support the new rules. However, many smaller publishers oppose them. Those smaller publishers are seeking changes in the final language to enable themselves to voluntarily waive the licensing requirements. They also want all linking to be excluded from the scope of the directive.

Google News VP Richard Gingras in a December blog post argued that “Article 11 . . . will have unintended consequences for smaller news publishers, limit innovation in journalism and…


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