BA urges MEPs to support controversial copyright law

BA urges MEPs to support controversial copyright law

Tim Godfray, executive chairman of the Booksellers Association, has written to all UK MEPs asking them to support publishers in their fight against copyright infringement by voting for changes to current European legislation in the form of the new Copyright Directive.

The BA's efforts join those of the Publishers Association, which has been lobbying extensively in the UK and Europe in support of approval.

According to the BBC, the new law proposed would put greater onus on individual websites to monitor for infringement of copyright, meaning they must have means to assess and filter content that is posted on their sites (as per Article 13 of the Directive).

It also raises the possibility of a "link tax", which in the interests of fairer remuneration for authors would prevent online content-sharing platforms and news aggregators from sharing links without paying for them (per Article 11 of the Directive). According to Axel Voss, a German MEP who helped shape the proposal, links created "for a private purpose" would be exempt.

Supporters have said the introduction of the new draft Copyright Directive would enhance the effectiveness of intellectual property protection rules. In a letter, former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney said the proposed Copyright Directive and its Article 13 would "address the value gap and help assure a sustainable future for the music ecosystem and its creators, fans and digital music services alike".

However, critics fear it could pose a threat to the very future and function of the internet, questioning whether AI filters would be able to tell the difference between infringing and non-infringing content, for example in cases of fair use. 

A petition against the change, called Save Your Internet, argues the requirement to install "complex and expensive filtering systems" threatened the economic viability of online platforms, while the end-result would be "widespread censorship of all the content you share online". It has garnered 750,000 signatures.

Italian Wikipedia even shut down for a day in protest on Tuesday (3rd July), arguing: "If the proposal is approved, it may be impossible to share a newspaper article on social networks or find it on a search engine."

The vote deciding whether the European Parliament and Council will adopt the draft Copyright Directive takes place today (5th July); if it gets the green light, legislation will then be further debated in closed-door discussions between EU legislators and member states. It will only apply to the UK if it comes into force before Brexit at the end of March 2019.