Is Internet Censorship Knocking On The Doors in Europe After the Adoption of the Copyright Directive? 

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In an attempt to provide fair compensation to the creative industries, the European Union has officially approved Monday a controversial Copyright Directive that has been debated for several years.

The European Parliament gave a green light to the new rules in March, but it needed the approval of the majority of the Member States to enter into force. Nineteen out of 28 Member States voted in favor of the overhaul, while six were against and three abstained from the vote,  including Belgium, Estonia, and Slovenia.

What is going to change? According to Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, the newly-implemented copyright rules would ensure fair compensation for all the people working in the EU's $1 trillion creative industries.

As per the new regulations, online platforms such as Google should sign licensing agreements with journalists, musicians, news publishers, performers, to use their work. 

Furthermore, YouTube, Instagram, and other sharing platforms would now need to install filters to prevent subscribers from uploading copyrighted content. The Polish lawmakers in Brussels did not believe it was a step forward in copyright protection. In their view, the filter requirement could lay the foundation for internet censorship.

The critics do not stop here. Insiders in the tech industry fear that the expensive automatic filtering would not be affordable for smaller companies giving another advantage to their bigger counterparts. For instance, Google spent over $100 million on Content ID last year. 

Commenting on the new regulations, Google says that the new rules would hurt European digital and creative industries instead of supporting them. 

YouTube did not welcome the move too saying that in controversial cases where copyright is uncertain, it would have block videos to avoid regulatory issues. 

According to Maud Sacquet, senior policy manager at the Computer & Communications Industry Association, the new EU directive would not ensure a balanced and modern framework for copyright. Instead, it would harm online innovation and online freedoms in Europe.

Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web, and Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales have already openly opposed the Directive. Wikipedia even blacked out numerous European sites in protest in February.

Not everyone shares this negative approach though. The European Magazine Media Association, the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association, the European Publishers Council, News Media Europe, and independent music labels lobbying group Impala supported the new measures. 

The living legend of the British music, the former Beatles member Paul McCartney also supported the changes. He recently wrote an open letter to EU lawmakers encouraging them to adopt the new rules.

The Member States have now two years to transpose the Directive into their national legislation.

Do you think that the new rules and especially the filter requirement open the door to censorship?