Media reaction to EU Commission’s proposed Internet reforms
The Commission’s proposals have prompted swift, widespread reaction from international media. While they portray it from different angles, the point calling for increased copyright protection is usually their focus.
A headline in the Financial Times states: “EU copyright reforms to strip likes of YouTube of legal protection.” The 14 September article explains that while video platforms currently remove content after receiving notification from right-holders, the new EU rules “would require them to run proactive software checks to determine whether content they are hosting contained copyright material,” which could be particularly tough on small platforms for the financial burden involved.
It is the latest episode in the long dispute between publishers who are losing revenue due to content being freely available (and often pirated) on the web and the online platforms that make that possible. The FT also points out that the Commission’s 2014 announcement on the impending reforms prompted intensive lobbying from both sides – and that not everyone in the European Parliament would agree with the change. The article quoted MEP Julia Reda, from the German Pirate Party, as saying the change “is clearly aimed at YouTube and Facebook,” and predicting it would “would have catastrophic consequences.”
An opinion piece from SpiegelOnline, also published on 14 September, announces that “Oettinger endangers the Internet.” This refers to EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger, who is responsible for coming up with Digital Single Market legislation, including “modernising copyright rules.” The author of the newspaper article says that while EU online copyright reforms are urgently needed, she fears the current proposal under Oettinger could actually prevent Internet users from sharing links with headlines and snippets. She states:
The free link is the backbone of the Internet.”
Meanwhile, an article from the same day in The Guardian is headlined “New EU copyright law could boost media groups.” The article takes the angle that, by forcing big platforms to pay more for displaying published content, the reforms the EU Commission is proposing offer “hope for news publishers, some of which have been vociferous in their criticism of firms such as Google for making money from their content without paying.”
A 19 September editorial from El País (“Protecting the creators”) is also more positive. In commending the initiative - also on behalf of newspaper publishers seeking greater protection from content aggregators - the newspaper states: “Via the Digital Single Market, the EU aspires to translate a common norm that looks after copyright, eradicates piracy, fairly compensates authors for the exploitation of their work on electronic platforms and surpasses territorial barriers in the diffusion of audiovisual work.”
Google has publicly expressed disappointment in the copyright reform proposal. Some in the entertainment industry are concerned, rather, with the proposal the Commission is simultaneously pushing to lower restrictions to broadcasting across borders, according to Variety.
The ECPMF will continue to follow this story as it develops.