Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Controversial changes to EU online copyright laws set for final vote

(Nick Ansell/PA)
(Nick Ansell/PA)

A decision on whether to adopt copyright changes that would create a tighter grip over online content will be voted on by MEPs on Tuesday.

Supporters in the creative and music industry argue that the Copyright Directive will enable content makers to be fairly paid for their work, while opponents, including the tech giants themselves, fear the changes could have an impact on freedom of speech and expression online.

EU decision makers have been deliberating about the extent of the reforms for years, most recently tweaking the text to make some exemptions, such as non-commercial encyclopaedias like Wikipedia, and introducing protections for popular web memes.

Two parts of the law, Article 11 and Article 13, have been most contentious since talks started, with the likes YouTube warning that viewers across the EU could be cut off from videos.

“With so many MEPs still undecided, the hotly debated vote still has the potential to pass, especially in view of the powerful advocacy coming from artists and creators such as Debbie Harry and Ennio Morricone, and the EU elections in May,” Raffaella De Santis, associate at law firm Harbottle & Lewis, said.

“Artists and creators are asking for European law makers to grasp the nettle to ensure the directive passes into law, so that they may be properly remunerated. In its current form however, Article 13 could still be voted down.”

If passed, EU member states will have two years to implement the law, although it is not clear what it would mean for the UK in the face of Brexit uncertainty.

“Whether the UK leaves Europe with or without a deal, it’s hard to see that it would not follow Europe’s lead on this, whatever the respective outcomes of the EU vote tomorrow and Brexit,” Ms De Santis added.

Blondie front singer Debbie Harry is a supporter of the copyright reforms (Ian West/PA)

More than five million people have signed a ‘save the internet’ petition against the changes, as well as taking to the streets in protest across Europe over the weekend.

Some 120 MEPs have publicly pledged to vote against the reforms, but that only includes three of the UK’s 73 MEPs.

“If passed, this copyright crackdown will lead to a chilling effect on freedom of speech,” said Catherine Stihler, chief executive of Open Knowledge International.

“It could change the web as we know it and restrict how we share research that could lead to medical breakthroughs or how we share facts to combat the spread of ‘fake news’.”

On the other side of the debate, Sir Paul McCartney and Debbie Harry are among the most vocal supporters of the proposals.

“It will allow artists to continue to create the music loved by fans all over the world by ensuring that the digital services that generate vast profits from music can no longer claim to have no responsibility for the content their businesses depend on,” Blondie singer Harry wrote in the Guardian last week.

The proposals have also been supported by news agencies across Europe, with the EANA (European Alliance of News Agencies) arguing it provides an opportunity to further develop quality news services and enables it to compete more fairly with tech giants.

Votes are set to be cast around midday, with an announcement of the result expected soon after.

Already a subscriber? Sign in