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The majority of the EU just accepted controversial new online copyright laws



The EU's new copyright law will go into effect in the next two years.
The EU’s new copyright law will go into effect in the next two years.

Image: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images

It was already something of a foregone conclusion, but Europe’s controversial new online copyright law took another step towards becoming official this week.

The European Union announced on Monday that 19 of the 28 member nations in the European Council voted to pass the new Copyright Directive law. Italy and Poland were among those who voted in opposition to the bill, while Estonia, Belgium and Slovenia abstained.

Regardless, each EU member nation now has two years to start enforcing the law that some have said is tantamount to widespread internet censorship.

Google is one big tech company that has publicly opposed the new copyright law.

Google is one big tech company that has publicly opposed the new copyright law.

Image: BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images

Monday’s development could be seen as a formality, as European Parliament voted to pass the law late last month. Still, it’s more clear now than ever that the way users distribute content on platforms like YouTube could be seriously changed by the new law, and not just in Europe.

Articles 11 and 13 of the Copyright Directive caused the most ire in the lead-up to the vote. The first dictates that sites like Google need to pay for aggregated news content. Google publicly opposed the law on the grounds that its Google News service would suffer greatly as a result of Article 11.

It already shut down Google News in Spain in 2014 because of a similar law in that country. 

Article 13, meanwhile, means platforms like YouTube are responsible for anything with a copyright that users post without proper permission. The major fear with this is that those sites could use content filters to more or less ban that copyrighted material, making it a headache to even post things like memes.

That said, the use of copyrighted material for “quotation, criticism, review, caricature as well as parody” is supposed to be just fine, according to the law. It could be years before we fully understand how much of an effect this will have in Europe and beyond.

Europe’s sweeping GDPR data privacy law passed last year had noticeable effects both in and out of the continent, for example. Hopefully we aren’t headed for a future without Game of Thrones memes

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