epa06712509 European Union flags fly near the seat of the European Commission at the Berlaymont building in Brussels, Belgium, 05 May 2018. EU institutions in Brussels opened their doors to the public on 05 May to celebrate 'Europe Day'. EPA-EFE/JULIEN WARNAND

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EU member states have given the final approval for copyright reforms in a bid to overhaul its two-decade old copyright rules.

The clearing of this final hurdle ensures artists and news publishers get their due in the internet era. The proposed reforms have triggered Europe-wide protests over internet freedom.

Nineteen countries, including France and Germany, endorsed the revamp while Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden were against. Belgium, Estonia and Slovenia abstained.

The European Parliament gave its green light last month to a proposal that has pitted Europe’s creative industry against tech companies, internet activists and consumer groups, triggering intense lobbying from both sides.

The controversial reform of EU copyright law is aimed at ensuring the rights of artists and news publishers in the digital age.

The package has faced bitter criticism from those who fear it could obstruct the free exchange of information and creativity on the internet. Supporters of the reforms say, however, that they will ensure fair remuneration for those producing content displayed online.

Under the new rules, Google and other online platforms will have to sign licensing agreements with musicians, performers, authors, news publishers and journalists to use their work online.

Google’s YouTube, Facebook’s Instagram and other sharing platforms will also have to install filters to prevent users from uploading copyrighted materials.

The law will mean that:

  • Social media platforms will have to ensure uploaded content is not in breach of copyright rules.
  • Companies will need licensing agreements with rights holders such as musicians, performers and authors to use their content.
  • The likes of Google News will have to pay publishers for press snippets shown in search results.
  • Non-profits and encyclopedias such as Wikipedia will still be able to use data for research and educational purposes.
  • Fledgling companies with an annual turnover below €10 million are exempt.

The EU member states now have two years to implement the laws at a national level.

Via European Council/Euronews/DW/Reuters

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