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Google comments on proposed EU copyright directive while European Council mulls a gentler version
07 February 2019
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In a post today on the Google Blog, SVP/Global Affairs Kent Walker asserted: "Now is the time to fix the EU copyright directive" which the European Parliament may finalize as early as next week.

(Go here for a refresher on what that directive would do as written.)

Walker makes these points:

  • Article 13 - which holds Internet services liable for any copyright infringement in user-generated content - would harm the creative economy of Europe, including YouTube (a Google property) creators.
  • Rights holders should be required to provide reference files of content with copyright notices and URLs so platforms can identify and remove offending content.
  • Article 11 - which would enable publishers to require online companies to pay to use more than minimal fragments of headlines or text snippets in links to their content - will make it harder for consumers to find news content, and substantially reduce traffic to publisher sites.
  • Google ran a "moderate" experiment which confirmed its prediction of traffic loss: 45% traffic loss when link code was limited to article title, URL and video thumbnail. And counterproductively for supporting high-quality journalism, many consumers turned instead to non-news sites, including Google search.
  • If only license payments, and not quality, decide which headlines users see, both consumers and small publishers would suffer.
  • "We call upon policy find a solution that promotes rather than limits the creative economy."

Meanwhile, a proposal leaked on Monday from the EU contains some suggested compromises to the original draft of the Directive in regard to Internet companies that have been active in the EU for less than 3 years and have annual sales below 10M EUR.

The next discussion meeting of EU officials is scheduled for Tuesday next week (12 February 2019).

How will this play out? Stay tuned with crossed fingers!

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