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New EU copyright rules for publishers

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The European Parliament recently voted in favour of changing the European Union’s copyright rules. MEPs voted by 348 votes to 274 in favour of rules that will force internet organisations such as YouTube and Google to take out licences to show copyrighted content and make them liable for taking down material that breaks intellectual property rules. The directive will officially come into force in 2021, meaning that EU member states have two years to implement the reforms. How this will affect the UK post-Brexit, however, is unclear. The final text includes a controversial ‘Article 13’ that has sparked protests across Germany and led to Wikipedia blacking out some of its EU websites in protest. Article 13 will make sites such as YouTube legally responsible for user-generated material they host in the EU and require all platforms to take out licences with rights-holders to show their material. Opponents argue that this will lead to platforms filtering content to avoid falling foul of the rules. Under Article 11, services such as Google News have to take out licences with publishers and newspapers to show short ‘snippets’ of text. A spokesman for Google said the directive would lead to ‘legal uncertainty and will hurt Europe’s creative and digital economies’. Julia Reda, a German MEP, described the vote as a ‘dark day for internet freedom’. Musicians Paul McCartney and Debbie Harry were among the most vocal supporters of the changes, alongside a number of groups including the European Alliance of News Agencies, which argued that it provides an opportunity to further develop quality news services and enables it to compete more fairly with tech giants.