European Parliament rejects EU's controversial copyright law

European Parliament lawmakers on July 5, 2018 rejected a highly controversial European Union copyright law proposal that was proposed by Beatles legend Paul McCartney against the creators of Wikipedia.

The draft law failed to get the required support with 318 parliamentary legislators voting against the measure, 278 in favour and 31 abstaining from the vote. The proposal was firmly resisted by major US tech giants as well as advocates of Internet freedom.

About the draft law

The draft law proposed to put more responsibility on websites to check for copyright infringements and forced platforms to pay for linking to news.

The move was intended to bring the EU's copyright laws in line with the digital age, but instead, it led to protests from the websites and much debate.

The law was backed by several musicians including high-profile music stars such as Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox, Placido Domingo and David Guetta.

The two highly contested parts of the law included:

Article 11

The section required online platforms to pay publishers a fee if they link to their news content.

The section proposed to protect newspapers and other outlets from internet giants like Google and Facebook using their material without payment.

The critics branded the section as a ‘link tax’, which would hand new, broad rights to large publishers and hurt smaller start-ups.

They also argued that the article failed to clearly define what constitutes a link and hence, could be manipulated by governments to curb freedom of speech.

Article 13

The section proposed to put greater responsibility on websites to enforce copyright laws. It would make online platforms legally liable for copyrighted material put on the web by users.

This could mean that social media sites and other websites would have to check every piece of content uploaded including texts, images, sounds or code.

Since the task would be impossible for humans, the websites would require automated copyright checking systems, which would be potentially expensive for most companies.

Such systems are known to have a higher error rate. There were also concerns that implementation of such copyright filters could effectively ban things like memes and remixes, which use some copyrighted material.

The article has been the most controversial and it faced the most resistance from the critics.

Main Debate

For the law

Against the law

The musicians urged the politicians to enact a law forcing sites like YouTube and Facebook to use filters that would stop users illegally uploading their music, arguing that websites had exploited their content.

The critics of the draft law said that the rules would stifle internet freedom and creativity.

They argued that musicians were being cheated out of money, while websites were making huge profits from their work.


Creative Commons Chief Ryan Merkley observed that 'The Beatles' would have been prevented from performing cover versions under the newly proposed rules.


Wikipedia went down on July 4 in at least three countries - Poland, Spain and Italy - in protest against the European upcoming Parliament vote.


The Members of the European Parliament decided at the end that the changes needed more debate and sent the proposals back to the Commission.


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