Remember that controversial EU Copyright Directive whose critics say amounts to a “meme ban” and link tax? Unfortunately, it passed the EU Parliament today in its entirety. Now the EU’s individual members have until 2021 (in theory, though some may take longer) to approve their own individual copyright legislation to implement the Directive’s terms. The EFF has a piece going over what the process looks like from here.
This legislation has been quite controversial among the Internet-using public, with an online petition garnering over 5 million signatures and over 100,000 people showing up in person to protest over the weekend, but the politicians seem to know what they want. It remains to be seen whether there’s enough voter opposition to send those particular politicians packing. Parliamentary elections are coming up in May, after all.
The “meme ban” Article 13 provision (Article 17 in the version of the Directive that passed) passed by only 5 votes, and apparently at least a couple of them were cast the wrong way by mistake. It’s not clear that fixing the mistakes would have blocked the provision, but it does add a frustrating coda to the whole thing.
In any case, copyright on the Internet isn’t necessarily ruined forever. It remains to be seen just how many national legislatures will pass the new law, and in what form—and what the courts will have to say when content owners try to put the law into effect. We can cross our fingers that reason will eventually prevail—though we certainly shouldn’t stop agitating to ensure that it does.