Governments from multiple nations in the EU have backed reform of European copyright rules, paving the way for the first update of the legislation in nearly 20 years. The compromise means tech giants like Google and YouTube will have to take out licences with music labels and news publishers for their platforms to feature their content. Other internet groups will also have to implement scans that filter audiovisual content to make sure it doesn’t breach copyright law.

A committee of lawmakers will now vote on the revised text next week, to which the parliament’s full chamber will also need to back the text in a vote later in March or early April. The Netherlands, Italy, Poland, Finland and Luxembourg did not back a compromise text, and instead called the move “a backward step.”

Technology, Media and Entertainment associate at law firm Harbottle & Lewis Zoey Forbes, said: “The backing that EU governments have given to the revised text of the new copyright directive will doubtless be welcomed wholeheartedly by many creatives and the wider content industry, but beneath the surface there is a great deal of complexity and potentially some real challenges.  Under the new rules, rights-holders will receive additional revenues from the use of their works online as well as greater protection from online copyright infringement. However, as with all things, the devil is in the detail and some may feel the safeguards offered to the tech industry have not only watered down the EU’s original objectives but will actually leave certain rights-holders worse off. Conversely, the tech industry and those advocating for freedom of expression are unlikely to be appeased by these safeguards and will probably continue to oppose the directive on an ideological level. Whatever their position, all those affected will be carefully considering the new rules to understand its implications ahead of the final vote in March or April. At the same time, the Brexit factor may come in to play for those operating in the UK, who will not necessarily be obliged to follow the new rules if the UK either leaves the EU without a deal or the directive is not implemented by the time the UK leaves.”


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