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What major changes to copyright law could mean for your online activities

Article 11 and Article 13 of the EU’s Copyright Directive could tighten laws over content shared online.

MEPs are to decide whether to continue with a new EU copyright law which would affect content shared online.

The Copyright Directive includes two parts, Article 11 and Article 13, that would force online platforms to pay original copyright holders, such as songwriters and publishers, for their work.

– What is the new copyright law proposal about?

Article 11, dubbed the “link tax”, would mean that publishers are entitled to fairer remuneration, preventing news aggregators such as Google News from providing links to their work free of charge.

Article 13 would put more pressure on platforms where users share content, such as Facebook and Twitter, to enforce copyright laws.

– What kind of content would the new copyright law affect?

The Copyright Directive could affect anything from the music in the background of a video, to memes, which regularly use stills or quotes from popular culture including movies and TV shows.

Save Your Internet, a campaign against the proposals, claims Article 13 would also affect gamers’ live-streaming, the ability to remix music, the sharing of parodies, and the ability to share links, as well as discussion sites.

Such a move would require online platforms to employ a way to scan all content before it is published.

– Who is against the move?

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Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is concerned about what the new law will mean for ordinary internet users (Anthony Devlin/PA)

World Wide Web founder Tim Berners-Lee and Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales are among the critics of the proposed measures, who argue that the impact will fall most on ordinary users of the internet.

The pair expressed concern in a letter signed by 68 other technology leaders, stating that Article 13 would require internet sites to “embed an automated infrastructure for monitoring and censorship deep into their networks”.

“For the sake of the internet’s future, we urge you to vote for the deletion of this proposal,” the group said.

Several versions of Wikipedia’s homepage, including the Italian, Spanish, Polish and Portuguese sites, were replaced with warnings of the significant harm editors believe the move will inflict if approved. The Italian site closed down completely on Tuesday (July 3), writing that the online encyclopaedia “would be at risk of closing”.

– Who is for the move?

Musician Sir Paul McCartney has urged MEPs to vote for the proposals in an open letter, saying that “we need an internet that is fair and sustainable for all”.

“Today some user upload content platforms refuse to compensate artists and all music creators fairly for their work while they exploit it for their own profit.”

Michael Dugher, chief executive of UK Music, echoed McCartney’s sentiment, adding: “He’s (McCartney) working to ensure future generations of creative talent get fair rewards.”

– What happens next?

If the vote goes ahead on Thursday, the legislation would be put forward for debate among EU legislators and member states before being enforced, although MEPs will be able to object.

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