West Midlands MEP James Carver is voting in the European Parliament in Strasbourg tomorrow against new digital copyright rules, which he fears will censor online speech.
The proposed directive claims to be an attempt to ensure fair pay for authors, artists and journalists but critics believe, in reality, it will solidify the dominance of internet giants at the cost of users, free expression and entrepreneurs.
It will require anyone who uses snippets or links of online journalistic content to first get a licence from the publishers and orders internet platforms to implement automated filtering systems to identify copyright content.
But with the onus on internet platforms to screen content it would mean any uploads are deemed “guilty of copyright infringement until proved innocent” and the platforms would have to compare the content to a vast, though likely incomplete, copyright database. The substantial costs of compliance would kill start-ups, limit freedom of expression and harm unintended targets such as Wikipedia.
Italian Wikipedia has blocked readers from its pages in protest displaying instead its editors’ fears that the rules could put an end to memes and remixes and require platforms to pay for linking to news. They warn Wikipedia itself would be at risk of closing.
Mr Carver, the region’s independent Euro MP, said: “The intentions of the directive to modernise copyright law are laudable but sadly, what is proposed, is ill-conceived.
“It will give huge power to automated ‘bots’ which will crawl through and delete content - including legitimate content - from the internet.
“This is fundamentally unfair and will give huge power to the big tech companies whilst harming small business. That’s so typical of the European Union - I’m glad we’re leaving, and let’s hope this legislation, if finally approved uncahnged, gets added to the list of things we repeal once we’re out.”