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Internet World on Edge Over Proposed EU Copyright Bill

Critics warn EU copyright bill will halt user-generated content

A proposed EU copyright law that if enforced will require all websites to check all posts for copyright violations has the entire Internet community on edge.

The European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs has voted to accept Article 13, a controversial amendment to the European copyright law, which would if put into effect require online publishers to automatically filter photos, videos, words and phrases, tweets, memes and other user-generated content for copyright violations.

The new legislation aims to tackle the far-reaching problem of copyright theft and at the same time get content publishers to enforce the law supporting in the meantime smaller news publishers by driving users to their homepages rather than directly to their news stories. The idea is to ensure a fair distribution of revenues from the online use of copyright works, benefitting creators, publishers, and platforms.

However, Internet and free speech advocates are calling it a “dark day” while influential IT experts, including TCP/IP creator Vint Cerf, web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales; Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle, and cryptography expert Bruce Schneier have signed a letter opposing Article 13, which they say is “an imminent threat to the future” of the Internet.

Article 13 is set to be voted on in European Parliament next month.

The Legal Affairs Committee also approved of  Article 11, which will – if passed – require online platforms to pay publishers a fee if they link to their news content.

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