Blow for tech giants as EU approves copyright laws

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European Union (EU) member states yesterday approved new copyright laws targeting digital giants like Google and Facebook.

Under the new Copyright Directive, the first major revamp of EU copyright rules in 18 years, online platforms will have to sign licensing agreements with authors and publishers to use their work. They will also be required to use filters stopping users uploading copyrighted material.

Tech companies have been pushing back against EU efforts to secure a level playing field for the creative industries, warning of the dangers of censorship.

However, in a statement issued yesterday, the EU says it is amending its legal framework on copyright to make it fit-for-purpose in today's digital environment.

"The council today [yesterday] adopted a directive that modernises existing EU copyright law to pave the way towards a true digital single market. The new rules ensure adequate protection for authors and artists, while opening up new possibilities for accessing and sharing copyright-protected content online throughout the European Union," it says.

The bloc adds the reform will adapt copyright rules to today's world, where music streaming services, video-on-demand platforms, news aggregators and user-uploaded content platforms have become the main gateways to access creative works and press articles.

The Copyright Directive was proposed by the European Commission in September 2016 and voted by the European Parliament in March 2019.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said: "With today's agreement, we are making copyright rules fit for the digital age.

"Europe will now have clear rules that guarantee fair remuneration for creators, strong rights for users and responsibility for platforms. When it comes to completing Europe's digital single market, the copyright reform is the missing piece of the puzzle."

According to the EU, the new directive will boost high-quality journalism in the EU and offer better protection for European authors and performers.

It explains that users will benefit from the new rules, which will allow them to upload copyright-protected content on platforms legally. Moreover, they will benefit from enhanced safeguards linked to the freedom of expression when they upload videos that contain rights holders' content; ie, in memes or parodies, it adds.

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