Bad news for Google and Facebook as EU greenlights copyright directive

16 Apr 2019

European Parliament in Brussels. Image: zouris/Depositphotos

Google and Facebook will have to pay creators to feature their work.

The Council of the European Union (EU) has given the green light to the new copyright directive aimed at protecting the EU’s creative industry, valued at $1trn.

The move is a blow for Google, which lobbied hard against it and which will have to pay publishers for news snippets, as well as Facebook, which will have to filter out protected content.

‘When it comes to completing Europe’s digital single market, the copyright reform is the missing piece of the puzzle’

Last month the European Parliament voted 348 in favour and 274 against the directive in what was a hotly contested law proposal that took two years to come through the system.

While opponents to the directive were hoping that one last stand would prevail, the final vote came down to the countries and 19 of the 28 member states of the EU voted in favour of the overhaul. Those who opposed it included Italy, Finland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden. Belgium, Estonia and Slovenia abstained.

The future of European publishing in the digital age

“With today’s agreement, we are making copyright rules fit for the digital age,” said European Commission (EC) president Jean-Claude Juncker.

“Europe will now have clear rules that guarantee fair remuneration for creators, strong rights for users and responsibility for platforms. When it comes to completing Europe’s Digital Single Market, the copyright reform is the missing piece of the puzzle.”

Juncker said that the new directive will boost high-quality journalism in the EU and offer better protection for European authors and performers.

After publication in the Official Journal of the EU, member states will have 24 months to transpose the legislation

EC surveys showed in 2016 that 57pc of internet users access press articles via social networks, information aggregators or search engines. 47pc of these users read extracts compiled by these sites without clicking through. This trend was also seen in the music and film industry where 49pc of internet users in the EU access music or audiovisual content online, and 40pc of those aged between 15 and 24 watch TV online at least once a week. This trend has rocketed since then, the EU said.

Under the new rules, Google and YouTube as well as platforms such as Facebook and Instagram will have to sign licensing agreements with musicians, performers, authors, news publishers and journalists to use their work.

European Parliament in Brussels. Image: zouris/Depositphotos

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years