Governments making up the European Union have backed an initiative by the European Commission aimed at protecting Europe's creative industries, ensuring fair compensation when the likes of Google and Facebook use their content.
According to a report in Reuters, citing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, copyright reform was the missing piece of the puzzle in terms of uniting European digital markets into a single digital market. Under the new rules, Google and other online platforms have to ink licensing agreements with musicians, performers, news publishers, authors and journalist to use their content.
The proposal faced backlash from Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden, and prompted Wikipedia to black out several European websites in March. Google argued the new rules would harm the creative and digital economies in Europe. Critics, the report noted, argue the rules will have a bigger impact on smaller companies, not the Googles of the world. Poland called the rules a step backward and could lead to censorship, the news outlet said. Nevertheless, 19 European Union countries including France and Germany backed the initiative. According to the report, Belgium, Estonia and Slovenia opted to abstain from the vote.
In response to the criticism, European Pirate Party lawmaker Julia Reda reportedly said critics can fight it out in court but it will take a long time and will be hard to win. Reda, who is opposed to the new rules, said the best thing to do is to ensure there is fair implementation of the rules, noted the report. The rules are being well received by the European Magazine Media Association, the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association, the European Publishers Council, News Media Europe and independent music label lobbying group Impala, according to the news report.
Google has been on the radar of the EU for months now, with the internet search giant getting hit with its third EU fine in March. The latest fine of €1.49 billion ($1.7 billion) by the European Union on March 20 held the internet search giant to task for limiting how some websites used to display ads sold by competitors.