Poland Files Complaint Against EU Copyright Rule Change

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Complaint filed in Europe’s top court against controversial copyright law change recently adopted by EU

Poland has filed an official complaint with the European Union’s top court against the recent copyright rule change.

The controversial and wide-ranging copyright reforms were formally adopted by the European Union in April (countries have two years to implement it).

The rule change is intended to curb online firms such as Google, YouTube and Instagram, which are seen as benefiting from copyrighted content at publishers’ expense.

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Polish complaint

It comes after the European Parliament gave its blessing to rule change in March, despite the fact that it had been fiercely opposed by tech firms, meme creators, and privacy campaigners.

Poland filed its complaint because it believes the new rules may result in preventive censorship, Reuters reported.

The new rules mean that firms such as Google has to pay publishers for using news snippets and Facebook for example has to filter out protected content.

The EU has long argued that the rules aim to ensure fair compensation for the EU’s $1 trillion creative industries.

But Poland disagrees, and according to Reuters it said the rule change was a step backwards.

Poland argues that the filter requirement could lay the foundation for censorship.

“This system may result in adopting regulations that are analogous to preventive censorship, which is forbidden not only in the Polish constitution but also in the EU treaties,” Deputy Foreign Minister Konrad Szymanski reportedly told public broadcaster TVP Info.

Long process

Last month some 19 countries had backed the reforms in a European Council vote, including France, Germany and the UK, with Belgium and Slovenia abstaining and six countries, including Italy and the Netherlands, voting against.

It should be remembered that the European Parliament had already approved the copyright reforms in September last year, despite heavy lobbying by tech giants, who were opposed to the changes.

There are two especially controversial aspects to this bill that caused widespread concern.

Article 11 for example requires online platforms such as Google to pay publishers a fee if they link to their news content.

European lawmakers believe this will help support smaller news publishers and drive users to their homepages rather than directly to their news stories, but Google has suggested that it might pull Google News from Europe altogether.

The second concern is article 13, which would require online platforms (YouTube, Instagram etc) to install filters to prevent users from uploading copyrighted materials or seek licences to display content.

The concern is that this reform could severely clamp down on user generated content and signal the end of memes for example.

The bill has already been fiercely criticised by Internet stalwarts such as Jimmy Wales, World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, internet pioneer Vint Cerf and others.

Tim Berners-Lee for example argued the bill would transform the internet from an open platform into a means of “automated surveillance and control”.

However supporters of the reforms have included, most recently, a group of 165 film-makers and screenwriters, including the UK’s Mike Leigh, and other notable figures in the entertainment industry.

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