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The European Union has passed Article 11 and Article 13, and will now begin the process of making the law enforceable.
For those unfamiliar with our prior coverage, Articles 11 and 13 will impose laws to aid in protecting copyright infringement within the European Union, but via a methodology that some argue could destroy the internet for the EU as we know it.
While Article 11 enforces a tax on posting hyperlinks online, Article 13 states that websites are to be held responsible when users upload copywritten content. Some fear this goes far beyond halting memes, but information and internet freedom in general.
Voting on individual amendments to the law (including, allegedly, “deleting” Article 13 in it’s entirety) was rejected by a majority of only five votes out of over 600 MEPs.
The final vote featured 658 MEPs. 348 approved, 274 rejected, and 36 abstained from voting. Julia Reda, a German MEP and vocal opponent of the laws, has released a list detailing how individual MEP’s voted. You can find it here and here.
There have been rumors of back-room dealing affecting the vote. Such as German newspaper FAZ reporting “strong indications that Germany traded its support for the copyright deal for French concessions on Russian gas North Stream 2”. You can find it archived here.
However, we must emphasize that their investigation is not conclusive at this time.
Another claim is that the order of voting was altered at the last minute, leading to confusion among the MEPs. As TechDirt reports:
“Unfortunately, soon after the vote was finalized [for the Articles], a few of the MEPs who voted against the plan for amendments — Peter Lundgren and Kristina Winberg — said they voted incorrectly and meant to vote for the amendments in order to get rid of Articles 11 and 13. Apparently, someone changed the vote order which threw them off:”
They added, “What happened was that in the middle of a sitting meeting, it was decided to make an adjustment in the order of voting in itself. This did not appear in a clear way where the President was also somewhat confused.”
“Ten of them said they meant to vote for amendments. Two of them said they wanted to vote against it. And one did not want to vote. As you can see in the screenshot below, everyone next to the “+” would have voted for the amendments if they had actually realized what they were voting on.”
If true and as aforementioned, this would have allowed the amendment vote to open up more changes including deleting Article 11 and 13. As TechDirt puts it:
“In other words, whoever changed the order of the vote pulled a fast one and got the EU Copyright Directive approved… despite the EU Parliament not clearly agreeing on that.”
The European Union rules and regulations state “MEPs may still issue corrections to their vote in case of mistakes, which will however not change the outcome“.
There is some glimmer of hope, in that it will take two years for the laws to become official. European elections will take place from May 23 to May 26 this year.
We will keep you posted as we learn more.