MEPs asked to ditch internet reforms

MEPs asked to ditch internet reforms

Tens of thousands of demonstrators across Germany have protested against the EU copyright reforms under the slogan “Save the internet”.

They called on the European Parliament to reject the legislation in a vote this week.

The updated EU online copyright law includes measures to pressure YouTube and other sites to remove illegal content using automatic filters.

It also aims to make tech giants pay more to news gathers for reproducing or linking to their content.

The campaign website Change.org says it has over 5 million signatures protesting against the EU copyright reforms. The total cannot be independently verified.

The regulation says online platforms will have to detect and filter out videos and music that would be deemed illegal under copyright law.

Opponents say in order to detect the copyright-protected content, sites like YouTube will probably use automatic “upload filters” which can have a significant error rate. The assumption is that filters will be a consequence of the regulation. It is argued that the rules could hinder the uploading of legal content.

MEP Axel Voss of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union said the comments were an exaggeration. Voss set out the copyright reform proposed by the European Commission to the parliament.

Voss said the reform would not be an “upload filter”.

“The aim is to tell the platforms: You can use your business model, but you have to reimburse fairly too,” the MEP added. Flat rate payments to artists through the platforms were also a possibility, he said.

Voss has received online death threats and his office in Bonn reported a bomb threat.

Media groups have pushed for the reform.

They say Facebook and Google make billions from advertising tied to news stories, while content providers lose out.

Protesters and Google say the reform will harm freedom of information and minor online publishers.

Crowds of 15,000 were reported in Berlin and 40,000 in Munich.

CDU MEP Daniel Caspary asked if the demonstrators were backed by lobbying firms working for US internet giants.

The claim sparked a backlash on social media.

The German Pirate Party has been among the most vocal in its opposition to the reform with parallel rallies also held in Austria, Poland and Portugal.

More than 260 journalists and photographers signed an article last week calling for the reform to be enacted.

In Poland, more than 200 filmmakers signed an open letter for MEPs asking them to pass the measures, in order to regulate usthe e of their intellectual property on YouTube and other video platforms.

MEPs are rushing through legislation ahead of the May elections. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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