Microsoft Warns EU Copyright Proposal Could Stunt Digital Growth

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The Windows giant said data-mining limitations could harm economic development and stop Europe from catching up with AI and data science competitors

Microsoft has criticised the EU’s proposed copyright reform ahead of a key vote next week, saying proposed limits on data mining could stunt Europe’s economic development.

The European Parliament is set to vote on Wednesday, 12 September, ahead of talks with member states and the European Commission.

The controversial directive is aimed at protecting media companies and creative industries from being exploited by tech firms, including social networks and search engines, by strengthening provisions around remuneration.

It is also aimed at benefiting non-profit research, and places restrictions on text and data mining for commercial use. Microsoft said that could harm the EU’s progress on data science and its uptake of new technologies.

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As it stands, the proposal could harm the EU’s attempts to compete with Japan, Singapore and China on data science, research and artificial intelligence and could have “a great number of unintended negative consequences”, Microsoft said.

“By confining the exception for text and data mining to only a small group of non-profit research organizations, Article 3 cuts off promising research by public and private partnerships and prevent uptake of new technologies by European businesses large and small,” the company said in a statement.

German drug maker Bayer, which says it relies heavily on large-scale data mining in its development of new drugs,  said the law would harm the EU’s ability to compete with the US and China.

“Excluding private research, start-ups and companies from reaping the full benefits of this technology will undoubtedly reduce Europe’s competitiveness,” Bayer said in a note, according to Reuters.

Remuneration

The European Parliament rejected a previous version of the directive earlier this summer, following lobbying that suggested it would prevent the use of copyrighted content in internet “memes” published across social media.

It’s supported by creative industries and non-profits, with some 165 screenwriters and directors signing a petition in favour of the measure, which was presented at the Venice Film Festival.

“Together, we have been calling on the European institutions to adopt a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market that introduces an unwaivable right to proportionate remuneration for authors, collected directly from the on-demand platforms by the collective management organisations representing us, the authors,” reads the petition, which is backed by the Federation of European Film Directors, The Federation of Screenwriters and the Society of Audiovisual Authors.

The Writers & Directors Worldwide trade association said it also backs the reforms, stating it sees the directive as a “unique opportunity for change”.

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