Copyright reform decided: New copyright comes with German "Yes, but ..."

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Luxembourg (AP) - In the end, the federal government has approved the reform of EU copyright - despite all resistance. Immediately after the vote of the EU states, however, came the big but.

Deputy EU Ambassador Susanne Szech-Koundouros explained how the reform should be implemented on Monday in a four-page supplemental declaration: without an upload filter and with various exceptions. It sounds like a correction with simultaneous approval. Unconditional conviction, at least, looks different.

First of all, however, the German positive message: The reform is urgently needed, the current legal framework is no longer up to date, it says in the first of the twelve paragraphs. It follows the but. A but that feeds from weeks of protest.

Critics fear that platforms like YouTube, but also smaller providers, will have to use upload filters in the future because they have more copyright protection obligations. These are programs that detect and sort out protected content when uploading. Ultimately, could be blocked significantly more than necessary, it threatens censorship.

Tens of thousands had therefore demonstrated in Germany against the project. The grand coalition came under pressure. The paper, which was worked on until Sunday evening, now says: It is regretted that it was not possible to find a concept that "convinces all sides".

Do not worry, the federal government immediately calls its critics. "Upload platforms should continue to be available as free, uncensored communication channels for civil society." The aim must be "to make the instrument" upload filter "largely unnecessary". If technical solutions are used, the EU should promote the development of open technologies with open interfaces. This would promote transparency, interoperability - the ability of different systems to work together as seamlessly as possible - and standardization. It would also prevent powerful platforms - Facebook and Google, for example - from selling their filtering technology and consolidating their power.

Berlin also emphasizes that the regulation in question applies only to said powerful platforms such as YouTube or Facebook. Concrete exceptions are also mentioned: Wikipedia, software platforms such as Github, messenger services such as WhatsApp, sales portals or cloud services.

So far the Berlin reading of the new directive. But then the government makes it clear: it is assumed that a uniform EU-wide implementation is agreed.

And if all this does not work? If the freedom of expression is still restricted by the new rules? Or if this special path violates EU law? Then the reform should be corrected, they say. It will take years, though. First of all, EU countries now have two years to transpose the new rules into national law.

The critics would not be soothed by all that anyway. FDP leader Christian Lindner wrote on Twitter that the grand coalition did not use its last chance to prevent upload filters. The Green Party leading candidate for the European elections, Sven Giegold, criticized the additional declaration as "questionable cosmetics". And pirate politician Julia Reda, who was one of the sharpest critics of the project in the European Parliament, said: "The new copyright makes everyone to losers." In addition, ignore the grand coalition their coalition agreement. In it, the mandatory use of upload filters is rejected as disproportionate.

The approval of the EU states on Monday was scarce - and dependent on the German yes. The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Poland, Italy, Finland and Sweden voted against the reform. Belgium, Slovenia, and Estonia abstained at the meeting of agriculture ministers, who voted on behalf of their respective governments. Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) was initially represented by Ambassador Szech-Koundouros.

Copyright reform aims to bring outdated copyright law in the EU to the digital age, and to give creators better pay for their content on the web. Mid-February, negotiators from the European Parliament and EU states had reached a compromise. This was endorsed by the European Parliament at the end of March. The countries moved now. Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters (CDU) said that the reform was "a great step forward for the digital single market and for a vibrant culture and creative industries". European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker also described the reform on Twitter as a missing piece of the puzzle of the digital single market.

In addition to new copyright obligations, the project also provides for ancillary copyright for press publishers. After that, news search engines like Google News have to pay money to publishers in the future for displaying article clippings. Here, critics especially for small publishers see disadvantages that would have a weak negotiating position with Google. In addition, they refer to Germany, where there is an ancillary copyright right since 2013, but that does not lead to notable cash payments to the publishers. However, the major German publishers' associations welcomed the reform.


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