Former MEP welcomes Polish complaint over new EU copyright directive

Written by Martin Banks on 3 June 2019 in News
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Former MEP Catherine Stihler has welcomed a Polish complaint to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) about the EU’s controversial copyright crackdown.

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Poland has submitted a complaint to the ECJ against copyright rules adopted by the EU in April which Parliament says will protect Europe’s creative industries.

In its complaint, Poland says the copyright legislation may result in preventive censorship.

Under the newly-adopted copyright directive, Google will have to pay publishers for news snippets and Facebook will be required to filter out protected content.


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The copyright rules are, according to the EU, aimed at ensuring fair compensation for the bloc’s €1 trillion creative industries.

Poland, however, has said the overhaul is a step backwards, arguing that the filter requirement could lay the foundation for censorship.

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Konrad Szymanski said, “This system may result in adopting regulations that are analogous to preventive censorship, which is forbidden not only in the Polish constitution but also in the EU treaties.”

Six EU countries originally voted against the proposal, including Poland, which has been opposed by five million people in a Europe-wide petition.

“This is an extremely welcome move by Poland which could save the internet from this deeply unpopular copyright crackdown” Catherine Stihler, former MEP and chief executive of the Open Knowledge Foundation

The proposal is expected to lead to the introduction of ‘filters’ on sites such as YouTube, which will automatically remove content that could be copyrighted.

While entertainment footage is most likely to be affected, academics fear it could also restrict the sharing of knowledge, and critics argue it will have a negative impact on freedom of speech and expression online.

Catherine Stihler, a former Scottish Socialist MEP and now chief executive of the Open Knowledge Foundation, told this website, “This is an extremely welcome move by Poland which could save the internet from this deeply unpopular copyright crackdown.”

Stihler, who served as an MEP from 1999 to 2019, added, “If this plan goes ahead we risk creating a more closed society at the very time we should be using digital advances to build a fair, free and open future.”

“After the European elections, it is to be hoped the new cohort of MEPs will champion openness and stop this chilling attack on freedom of expression,” she added.

Parliament voted in favour of the new rules on 26 March and they were formally adopted by Member States in mid-April.

The directive was marked by one of the fiercest debates ever seen in Brussels about draft legislation, including death threats being issued to MEPs.

“This system may result in adopting regulations that are analogous to preventive censorship, which is forbidden not only in the Polish constitution but also in the EU treaties” Konrad Szymanski, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister

GESAC, the EU-wide body that represents 32 of the largest authors’ societies in the European Union, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, has praised the EU for “standing up against free-riding tech giants’ manipulation.”

GESAC General Manager Véronique Desbrosses said the directive was a “major achievement for European creators and their future in the digital environment.”

“It is also a strong and encouraging message from the EU institutions, showing that they will not give in to the aggressive and irresponsible behaviour undertaken by the tech giants to intimidate politicians and to manipulate public opinion with scaremongering, astroturfing and misinformation spread on their own platforms.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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