People of the Internet, rejoice! For today is truly one where common sense has prevailed, and the web as we know it will live to fight another day. Unless you’re in the US, soz people.
Today was the crucial vote in the EU when Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) were voting on the hugely controversial Copyright Directive. And in a surprising move, MEPs have decided to stall its implementation.
That doesn’t mean it’s dead and buried just yet. But it does mean the legislation will not be fast-tracked into law. That means your memes are safe, your small website can survive, and people won’t have to pay for licenses to hyperlink elsewhere.
MEPs defeated the legislation by 318 votes to 278, with 31 abstentions, halting its progress into law. Websites including Google, YouTube, and Wikipedia had all opposed the bill, with the latter holding a day of protest yesterday to highlight how it would affect the free and open Internet.
“Great success: Your protests have worked!” Julia Reda, an MEP for the Pirate Party, wrote on Twitter. “The European Parliament has sent the copyright law back to the drawing board.”
One of the main criticisms of the law was how vague everything was. Two key parts, Articles 11 and 13, seemed to suggest that websites would have to moderate all content from users, which would be disastrous for small businesses, and add more barriers to sharing information.
Prior to the vote, a group of experts, including founder of the World Wide Web Tim Berners-Lee, signed a letter that said Article 13 specifically would transform the Internet into “a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.”
Not everyone was against it, however. Anders Lassen, president of the European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers, said it was “never about censorship or freedom of speech,” but about "updating the copyright rules to the 21st century.”
When almost every expert seems to disagree, however, and with the actual enforcement of the rules themselves seemingly impossible, it’s hard to see how it would have worked. It’s not over yet though, as the legislation will be voted on again in September. For now, the web as we know it is saved.