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EU copyright reform goes from bad to worse

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Privacy News Online has written a couple of times about the major review of copyright law currently underway in the European Union. It’s pretty bad: there are proposals to bring in a “snippet tax” as well as a requirement for sites to filter all uploads. The hope was that as the draft text passed through the European Union’s legislative machinery, the more outrageous suggestions would have been dropped as people realize the damage they would cause to the Internet in Europe. In fact, the opposite has happened.

For example, the “snippet tax” would require commercial sites that quote even tiny portions of online press publications to pay a licensing fee for each one. Given the way social networks constantly quote and cross-link information, that’s clearly absurd. And yet the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) committee of the European Parliament has come up with a cunning plan to make it even worse. It wants the snippet tax to apply to physical publications as well as digital ones:

“Print editions are worth as much protection as digital editions. For this reason it is essential to ensure that rights are granted for both digital and non-digital use and remove any wording that can exclude non-digital uses.”

The ITRE committee managed to wreak even more havoc by changing just one word in the original text of the proposed copyright directive. For the snippet tax, the European Commission had explicitly excluded scientific publications from the scope of the law:

“Periodical publications which are published for scientific or academic purposes, such as scientific journals, should not be covered by the protection granted to press publications under this Directive.”

ITRE wants to replace the word “not” with “also”, thus making it a requirement for journal quotations in a published academic paper, no matter

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