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European Parliament Rejects Copyright Reforms

The European Parliament rejected on Thursday a draft of reforms aimed at modernizing and strengthening copyright rules in the digital age. The reforms were pushed by European film and TV guilds, as well as artists such as Paul McCartney and publishers.

Parliament’s decision to reject reforms proposed by the Legal Affairs Committee marks a victory for global giants such as Netflix, Google, Facebook, and Amazon, which would have faced several changes and restrictions if the draft had been approved.

EDiMA, the European trade association representing online platforms, reacted to the decision, saying that “democracy has succeeded.” The org previously argued the reforms would have resulted “in the censorship of free speech online and a disintegration of the internet as we know it.”

Of the 627 deputies who participated in the vote, 318 of them voted against and 278 were in favor of the reforms. There were 31 abstentions.

The last E.U. copyright reform dates back to 2001, before the start of the digital revolution, and those who are lobbying for the reform are arguing that web giants must be held accountable for the content they feature in order to create a fairer marketplace and fight against piracy.

Earlier this year, more than 1,300 recording artists, including McCartney, James Blunt, and opera star Placido Domingo signed an open letter to the European Parliament in support of the reform.

But two articles (the 11th and 13th) in the draft sparked criticism among many deputies. The 11th article called for content aggregators such as Google News to pay a fee to publishers, while the 13th article required web platforms such as Facebook to flag copyright-protected content from being illegally posted online.

The Legal Affairs Committee will have to come up with a new draft to be examined by the European Parliament during the next plenary session in September.

Reacting to today’s vote, Axel Voss, the rapporteur for the copyright directive, said he regretted that “a majority of MEPs (members of the European Parliament) did not support the position which (he) and the Legal Affairs Committee have been advocating.”

“But this is part of the democratic process. We will now return to the matter in September for further consideration and attempt to address peoples’ concerns whilst bringing our copyright rules up to date with the modern digital environment,” Voss added.

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