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European Parliament Approves Copyright Bill Opposed by Tech Giants

The European Parliament approved legislation that will redefine the internet, and Americans are not going to like it.

That's because the changes will affect tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Twitter in major ways. Critics say the laws will turn the platforms into tech police, upend copyright laws, and slow down information.

Wait, slow down information!? If anything could cause an American revolution, it's a slower internet.

Content Liability

The parliament does not control the world, and it is only one part of a three-way negotiation that also involves the Council of the Europe Union and the European Commission. But together they have the power to regulate internet content in Europe, and that accounts for a lot of users.

It's enough that internet platforms -- like Google and Facebook -- oppose the legislation. It would make them directly liable for content uploaded by users and mandate greater "cooperation" with copyright holders to police uploads of infringing materials.

The Copyright Directive also requires aggregators such as Google News to pay a "link tax," and lets sports teams limit how fans share images and videos online. Proponents say it will help "creative industries," but opponents say it will do the opposite because small companies will not be able to compete.

"We're enormously disappointed that MEPs [Members of European Parliament] failed to listen to the concerns of their constituents and the wider Internet," Danny O'Brien, an analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Ars Technica.

Beyond Copyright

Going beyond traditional copyright laws, the Directive could put billions in the pockets of music companies, filmmakers and media publishers. Companies like YouTube, for example, would pay license fees for music videos and other content posted by users.

Wikipedia would be an early casualty, saying it would have to close down its user-generated encyclopedia if the laws take effect. It shut down its pages in some countries to protest the plan.

With the death of net neutrality in the United States, which freed broadband companies to slow down internet traffic, the old internet may soon be gone.

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