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European Union adopts new copyright law

17 April 2019

The new rules were first proposed nearly three years ago and member states have two years before they need to add the directive into their national legislation.

Five countries that were against the directive, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Poland, Italy and Finland, issued a joint statement criticizing the directive.

But 19 countries, including France and Germany, endorsed the revamp, while Belgium, Estonia and Slovenia abstained.

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Member states now have two years to implement the Directive on a national level.

Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson criticised the reforms last month, calling it a "classic European Union law to help the rich and powerful" and a "good example of how we can take back control".

Even some member states that voted in favour of the reforms did so with explicit reservations.

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Known as Article 13, the most controversial element makes firms put more efforts into policing the content on their services, including properly licensing copyrighted material, or be held liable for illegally shared content. For example, Germany said that it must be the aim to render so-called "upload filters" largely unnecessary in practice.

Article 15, meanwhile, provides that news publishers have the right to negotiate licenses with news aggregators, adding that "authors" of works are entitled to a share of the additional revenue sourced from the new "link tax".

However, the provisions were subsequently amended and supporters of the reforms have said the changes ensure newly emerging platforms are not exposed to the same burdens as more established platforms, and that there are other safeguards on freedom of expression.

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Except when using individual words and very short extracts of press publications, internet platforms would have to seek an authorization from press publishers.

European Union adopts new copyright law