The Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market 2016/0280(COD), also known as the EU Copyright Directive, is a controversial proposed European Union directive intended to ensure “a well-functioning marketplace for the exploitation of works and other subject-matter… taking into account in particular digital and cross-border uses of protected content”. It extends existing European Union copyright law and is a component of the EU’s Digital Single Market project. First introduced by the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs on 20 June 2018, the directive was approved by the European Parliament on 12 September 2018, and is currently passing through formal Trilogue discussions that are expected to conclude in January 2019. If formalised, each of the EU’s member countries would then be required to enact laws to support the directive.
The European Council describe their key goals as protecting press publications, reducing the “value gap” between the profits made by internet platforms and content creators, encouraging “collaboration” between these two groups, and creating copyright exceptions for text and data mining. The directive’s specific proposals include giving press publishers direct copyright over use of their publications by internet platforms such as online news aggregators (Article 11) and requiring websites who primarily host content posted by users to take “effective and proportionate” measures to prevent unauthorised postings of copyrighted content or be liable for their users’ actions (Article 13).
Articles 11 and 13 have attracted widespread criticism from European and American parties. Article 11 has been criticised as a “link tax” which would require websites “to obtain a license before linking to news stories”, and Article 13 as a “meme ban”, on the basis that the content-matching technologies employed to meet its requirements cannot identify fair dealing such as parody. Supporters of the directive, largely media groups and publishers, reject these arguments and claim that a disinformation and astroturfing campaign is being carried out by big internet platforms such as Google.
In November 2018, Google began openly campaigning against the proposal, threatening to shut down YouTube in the EU unless concessions are made