Today (26/03/19) the European Parliament in Strasbourg voted in favour of the proposed directive on copyright rules for the digital market. EFDD MEPs have raised significant concerns around this directive especially concerning Articles 11 and 13. The EFDD Group today tabled a rejection amendment to the Commission proposal however this was defeated and was followed by the directive being passed without the opportunity to consider any amendments.
EFDD MEP Jonathan Arnott, who spoke in the plenary debate on the directive, commented:
“Of course what we need is a balance, between protecting creators and copyrighted material and protecting the lawful rights of citizens going about their daily business. But this legislation, in particular Articles 11 and 13, does not deliver that balance. It is fundamentally illiberal because in practice tech companies will end up treating citizens as guilty until proven innocent.”
“This directive will drive a wedge between the European Union and young people across Europe. This is bad legislation. It is classic ‘end of term’ legislation and will make the chasm between the European Parliament and the people of the United Kingdom and Europe wider than it already is.”
We are being lobbied extensively by both sides of this debate. On the one side I´m hearing from huge numbers of ordinary people who are concerned about the future of their internet. On the other side we have cocktail receptions, slick advertising, I even saw a taxi on the way here advocating this legislation.
Now don´t think for a second that the creative industries are uniformly behind this legislation. They're not. But the big players are the ones with the money to lobby. I care FAR more about the voices and views of my constituents, of ordinary people than the views of lobbyists who are paid to tell us what they want us to think.
Now of course what we need is a balance between protecting creators of copyrighted material, and protecting the lawful rights of citizens going about their daily business.
But this legislation, in particular articles 11 and 13, does not deliver that balance. It is fundamentally illiberal because in practice, the big tech companies will have to treat average citizens as ‘guilty until proven innocent’ on copyright. Content will be removed automatically. It will push one size fits all enforcement upon platforms across Europe despite national copyright law being different from one country to the next. You can´t deal with that minefield, so legal content will end up being treated as though it is illegal.
Many of you here are true believers in the European Project. I can only tell you what I see from the United Kingdom. British people’s opinions on this place haven't changed very much. Most people who supported Remain still support Remain. Most people who supported Leave still support Leave.
But I've had people come up to me, to tell me that they voted Remain in 2016 but would now vote Leave purely because of the Copyright Directive. In other European countries, if you vote for this today you will drive a wedge between the European Union and young people across Europe.
This is bad legislation. It is the classic end-of-term problem. This Parliament has to finish its business in the next 3 and a half weeks to complete its business ready for the European elections. Things are being rushed through because of that, they have not been properly and fully considered.
Please, listen to your constituents on this. Please, do not make the chasm between this Parliament and the people any wider than it already is.