The controversial vote on copyright on Wednesday 12 September in the European Parliament in Strasbourg could radically change the way we share information online.
The copyright reform has the potential to introduce rules that ensure fair rewards for creators of artistic material. It also has the potential to undermine the fundamental rights of internet users.
The copyright directive will change copyright law to make it relevant to the digital age. The ‘new’ music industry makes it possible for artists to upload videos to the popular streaming website YouTube, for example. This gives them an incredible opportunity to reach a huge audience. But for many years the music industry has been calling on European leaders to do more to ensure that artists are paid properly for their work.
When we last voted on this in July, I voted against the creation of a so-called ‘link tax’. This is would allow internet giants to charge licensing fees for posting links. The link tax could potentially end open sourced projects like Wikipedia that publish material that can be freely shared.
I also opposed ‘censorship machines’ or ‘upload filters’. Originally intended to remove copyright infringing content, the filters could lead to legal content being taken down from the internet, such as the GIFs or pictures that we often share with each other on social media.
The freedom to panorama, the right to publish pictures of public buildings and artworks is also at stake during this week’s vote. If the current proposal were to be adopted into law, the freedom to panorama would be restricted to non-commercial use. You could be fined for taking a photo on holiday if the photograph has protected building.
I know from the letters you have sent me that there are still major concerns about those elements of the copyright reform that would restrict our freedom to share music and information online.
I have received so much attention on this issue from people across Wales. I also received thousands of emails and tweets about the protection of artists and authors. Young software developers across Wales have reached out to me on this issue to express concern that they would no longer be able to source the copyright-free content needed to run their online businesses.
Wales has a wealth of talented artists, musicians and writers who deserve to be fairly rewarded for their work, so balancing their rights with those of internet users is at the heart of the issue. I will continue working toward this aim. I hope we can strike a balance that works for everyone.