Tech Giants Win a Battle Over Copyright Rules in Europe


European Parliament lawmakers rejected a bill backed by news outlets and music publishers to restrict the use of their content on platforms like YouTube and Facebook.

It’s a fight nearly as old as the internet.

On one side are news organizations, broadcasters and music companies that want to control how their content spreads across the web, and to be paid more for it. On the other are tech companies such as Facebook and Google, which argue that they funnel viewers and advertising revenue to media outlets, and free-speech advocates, who say that regulating the internet would set a dangerous precedent and limit access to information.

That battle flared up in Europe on Thursday. Two powerful industries faced off — technology against media, platforms against publishers — in an unusually aggressive lobbying campaign in the European Parliament over a bill that would impose some of the world’s strictest copyright laws, which would have required tech companies to filter out unlicensed content and pay for its use.

On this occasion, tech prevailed; the proposal was voted down.

The decision came amid broader efforts in Brussels to rein in tech giants. European regulators have already brought in tough new privacy rules, and are considering enhancing them. They have hit Silicon Valley companies with hefty antitrust fines, and are investigating them over their tax practices and handling of data. And like elsewhere in the world, they are increasingly skeptical of the argument made by internet companies that they are simply impartial platforms that cannot be held responsible for what is posted on their pages.

“Making content available on the internet does not come without responsibility,” said Eleonora Rosati, an associate professor on intellectual property law at the University of Southampton’s law school in England, who has been tracking the bill. “Rights holders want to control how their content is made available, shared and indexed.”

But after a well-coordinated effort by companies including Facebook, Google, Reddit and Wikipedia, as well as a grass-roots campaign by backers of an open internet, the European Parliament on Thursday rejected the proposed copyright law. Though lawmakers can still revise the bill and call another vote, the result is a blow to media companies that had believed that, if ever there was a good time to impose tougher rules on tech giants, this was it.

Media businesses like Axel Springer of Germany have become frustrated because even as their content has spread online, it is platforms like YouTube, owned by Google, and Facebook that have grown into advertising powerhouses on the back of the material.

Those media companies have been seeking a rewrite of Europe’s copyright laws that would give them more power to restrict how their content is distributed. They also cited concerns that Silicon…

Follow Me

Peter Bordes

Exec Chairman & Founder at oneQube
Exec Chairman & Founder of oneQube the leading audience development automation platfrom. Entrepreneur, top 100 most influential angel investors in social media who loves digital innovation, social media marketing. Adventure travel and fishing junkie.
Follow Me

More from Around the Web

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news from our network of site partners.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest