Yesterday (March 26), the European Parliament voted to pass the EU Copyright Directive, which includes two controversial rules: The first, Article 11—colloquially referred to as a “link tax” by detractors—would require aggregation platforms like Google News to obtain a license in order to hyperlink or quote from a news article. Anything beyond “individual words or very short extracts” would fall under this provision. The second rule, Article 13, known as the “upload filter,” requires content-hosting websites, such as YouTube and Twitch, to take active measures (described as “best efforts”) to acquire licenses for all uploaded content, or possibly be held liable for copyright infringement.
Before the final vote on the EU Copyright Directive, Parliament voted on whether to allow amendments, which could have allowed for the eventual removal of the controversial rules (Articles 11 and 13). The vote failed, 312 to 317. Thirteen Swedish members of European Parliament, however, have said they voted incorrectly, according to The Guardian. Had they voted correctly, the vote would have passed. Although the official record was changed, the initial result will not, meaning there will not be an amendment vote and that Articles 11 and 13 will seemingly pass with the rest of the EU Copyright Directive.
As writer Richard Smirke noted in Billboard earlier this month, the final text of Article 13 caused division among figures in the music industry. Some praised placing the onus of policing copyright infringement on tech companies, while others expressed concerned over ambiguous language in the directive that would potentially hurt rights holders in the longer term.
Here’s why Article 13 matters to music listeners: Even with licensing agreements in place, it is impossible for large sites like YouTube to obtain authorization for every single piece of music ever uploaded to their servers. This fact, coupled with their possible liability under the new rule, will lead to stricter “upload filters” when it comes to these platforms. This will have consequences for all manners of music that might be difficult to obtain a license for: DJ mixes, remixes, music that is out of print, and other music could be blocked as a result of the filters.