Tech platforms and internet activists protested the outcome of a European Parliament vote on Wednesday to back copyright rules that would help video, music and other rights holders seek compensation for use of their content online.
Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Facebook Inc. and other tech firms may now be forced to negotiate licenses for content that appears on their sites after lawmakers broadly supported a legislative proposal for new copyright rules, unveiled in 2016 by the European Commission.
The European Parliament in July had rejected the rules but backed them in a final vote after lawmakers submitted slight tweaks to the text.
If they fail to negotiate a license, the companies could have to actively filter out copyrighted content from what users upload on their platforms, which has sparked concerns among internet activists that this could lead to censorship.
European lawmakers “decided to support the filtering of the internet to the benefit of big businesses in the music and publishing industries despite huge public outcry,” said Siada El Ramly, director general of Edima, an internet platform association that includes Facebook and Google. “We hope that governments of the EU will hear their citizens’ concerns in the next stage of negotiations.”
The final version of the law still needs to be agreed with the commission and EU member states, who also broadly support the commission’s proposal, before it enters into force.
Julia Reda, an internet activist and German member of European Parliament, on Twitter called part of the vote “catastrophic,” adding that the “parliament has failed to listen to citizens’ and experts’ concerns.”