The obstacle course in which the approval of the copyright directive overcome a new fence. The trialogue negotiations between the European Commission, the Parliament and the Member States ended on Wednesday, at the end of 20.20 in the afternoon, after three days of discussions – and months of previous debates -, with an agreement that allows to continue with the process of the controversial law. The text includes the right of the content owners to receive fair remuneration for the use of their works on the Internet, and forces platforms such as YouTube to obtain licenses from the creators or, in their absence, to use measures to control previously. the material that users share. The regulation confronts creators, press editors and cultural companies with professors, activists and giants such as Google and Facebook. The last word has not yet been said. The document must be voted in the European Parliament and endorsed by the Twenty-eight.
The two sides, apparently irreconcilable, clash in a debate as ideological as economic that has mobilized the lobbies and more than two years after its inception, it has become emotional and harsh: there have been no death threats, apocalyptic auguries about the end of freedom on the Internet and tons of spam in the emails of the MEPs. Several of them recognize that it is the most controversial and harsh issue that Parliament has dealt with in years. The furious encounters are mainly about two articles, the 11 and the 13. The central argument of the supporters of modifying the stagnant European directive, conceived in 2001, when the mobiles were not intelligent and nobody consulted them every 10 minutes, is that technology companies earn a huge amount of money in advertising giving access to creative works of third parties, and those revenues are not shared with their authors as they should. Opposite, his critics warn of the death of the Internet as it is known up to now and the legalization of preventive censorship.
The self-styled defenders of the creators are favorable to news aggregators such as Google News to pay newspapers and magazines if they reproduce fragments of publications of their media: for this, Article 11 gives press editors a right to grant licenses to these platforms for using his works. Information companies see the standard as an additional revenue source in the midst of the crisis in the sector. "It is a huge step for European creatives and to protect the quality of independent journalism," said popular MEP Axel Voss, rapporteur for the initiative.
Google responds that the imposition can end up being counterproductive for the media: according to a study published by the American multinational last week, the traffic of the news websites would fall by 45% to get ahead of the norm. Google News even threatens to leave Europe, as it did with Spain after the approval of a similar rule. The text, however, only affects news aggregators and fragments of articles: the link is safe, as well as users who want to share content. The European Commission has stressed that journalists will benefit from the benefits generated by their publications. On the other hand, on the other hand, it is pointed out that it will end up benefiting only publishers and not journalists.
But above all the eyes have focused on Article 13. This section shows that the portals that store, optimize and disseminate user content for commercial purposes (such as YouTube) are responsible for what Internet users upload. For now they were considered safe ports: that is, they are only required to control a posteriori, when they are warned of a violation of copyright. The directive aims to force these portals to negotiate with the creators and, if finally there is no agreement, at least to take anti-piracy measures. Critics nevertheless believe that this translates into previous filters that multiply the censorship and power of these platforms, punishing Internet users, as well as supposing a cost that only giants such as YouTube can assume.
At first, France and Germany disagreed about its scope. Paris wanted all companies to implement it, regardless of its size. Berlin was more flexible and asked for exemptions for small businesses. Finally, those portals with less than three years of activity, income of less than 10 million and less than five million users will be excluded. The norm also includes explicit exceptions for online teaching, research, encyclopedias, entities dedicated to the preservation of cultural heritage and uses such as satire (which would protect GiFs or memes).
For YouTube, if the article is not softened, your current model will be compromised. The company recalls that only in the last year has it paid 800 million euros to rights holders in Europe. "Companies that act properly, helping owners of rights to identify and control the use made of their content, should not be responsible for what users upload, nor is a telephone company the content of conversations that they are on the phone, "defended Marco Pancini, Public Affairs Officer for YouTube in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, in a gallery published in this newspaper at the beginning of the month.
The process advances against the clock, and if it suffers some stumble along the way, it runs the risk of derailing before the closeness of the European elections on May 26. In recent months stages have been burning. Last September, the European Parliament approved to continue with the reform – something that the same deputies had rejected a few months before – and to begin the negotiation with Council and Commission. In mid-January, the differences between France and Germany temporarily paralyzed their processing. Last week both powers unlocked the pact. And this Friday 20 countries – all except Italy, Poland, Holland, Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg, Malta and Slovakia, which remained reluctant – gave him the green light. Spain aligned with the Franco-German proposal, and has pushed for improvements in the conditions of copyright owners in negotiations with the European Parliament.
The hopes of his opponents are now focused on getting a parliamentary majority capable of modifying the most controversial articles or, if not possible, of paralyzing the norm in the plenary to be held in March or April. To achieve this they must convince a large number of deputies that the new document worsens ostensibly the previous one, given that the reform was supported by the last vote by 438 deputies, with only 226 against and 39 abstentions. And they must do it in a hurry. At least in that, all sides share the same problem: there is no time for anyone.