EU online copyright dispute: a quick guide

Paris - European Parliament lawmakers will soon vote on a proposed EU copyright law that has set artists and news companies at odds with web giants such as Google and Facebook.

Here is a quick guide to key terms used in the dispute over the EU Copyright Directive, ahead of the vote on September 12.


- Copyright, neighbouring rights -

Creators of music and movies are demanding web companies pay them for reproducing or linking to their content, based on their intellectual property rights.

At the same time, news organisations are claiming the right to be paid for when their stories are posted or linked to: so-called "neighbouring rights".

Leading journalists join call for EU copyright reform


- Article 11: fair pay -

News organisations should receive "fair and proportionate remuneration" for use of their stories by "information society service providers", according to Article 11 of the draft directive.

For this, the web companies would have to negotiate licensing agreements with the news organisations. Some legal experts say this is too complex, piling new rights on top of copyright laws and licences.

Trend in spending on newspaper advertising in the EU's 28 member countries from 2009-16


- Article 13: policing content -

Article 13 of the plan proposes to make web companies responsible for preventing copyright infringements by users posting on their sites.

Web giants say they would have to use automatic filters that risk stopping even legal posts, stifling innovation and free expression.

"Error-prone censorship infrastructure... will over-block legal posts, because it can't tell allowed uses of copyrighted material (like parodies) from infringement," said European Parliament member Julia Reda of the Green-affiliated Pirate party.

Conservative member Axel Voss proposed amendments to ensure "exceptions and limitations" and "that automated blocking of content is avoided".


- Links and snippets -

Opponents of the directive say it could lead to a "tax" on links to news articles online by making sites pay to link to content.

Amendments drafted by Voss propose not to impose payments for the hyperlinks that users click on to get to an article.

But the directive may still demand payment for reproduction of "snippets" or summaries of news stories.


- Value gap -

Leading support for the directive among artists, ex-Beatle Paul McCartney complained of a "value gap... between the value these platforms derive from music and the value they pay creators".

News publishers also use the value gap complaint: advertisers pay handsomely to put ads on web pages, they say, but companies producing articles that draw readers to those pages say they receive relatively little.