European Copyright Directive rejected by European Parliament

On July 5, 2018, the European parliament voted on the EU committee’s proposal for a new European Copyright Bill. The video clip shows the last two speeches before votes were cast: one by German MEP Axel Voss, a member of the European People’s Party Group, in support of the EU committee’s position, and another by British MEP Catherine Stihler of the Socialists & Democrats group against.

The new law, particularly articles 11 and 13, had faced serious opposition by prominent internet personalities such as Tim Berners-Lee and Vint Cerf, digital rights activists, and YouTube content creators alike. Had the law been passed, it would have likely resulted in an even more widespread implementation of automated content filters on platforms for user-generated content. At the same time, article 11 would have led to mandatory licensing fees for preview snippets of linked content. In the worst-case scenario, this would have led to smaller news platforms being forced to shut down for being unable to afford those fees.

In the end, votes against the proposed copyright bill prevailed by a very slight margin of only 40 of a total of 596 votes (and 31 abstentions). 

An English translation of the German parts of the video is available at the bottom of the transcript.

For more information on the Copyright Directive and its potential impact, visit

  • Date of recording: Thu, 2018-07-05
  • Language(s) spoken:

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00:01 Introduction

Pavel Telička: We will now proceed with the next item on the agenda, which is on the decision by the jury committee to enter into negotiations on the basis of the report of Mr. Voss on copyright in the digital single market. Mr. Voss has asked for the floor, he has two minutes.

00:22 Statement by Axel Voss – Why the proposed bill is so favorable for artists and users

Axel Voss: Herr Vorsitzender, recht herzlichen Dank. Wir alle haben intensive Diskussionen hinter uns, aber um was geht es bei dieser Reform? Es geht um die Beendigung der Ausbeutung der europäischen Künstler, die im Internet stattfindet. Wir reden hier von den großen US-Plattformen wie Google und Facebook, die seit Jahren Riesengewinne einfahren und das auf Kosten der europäischen Kreativen. Das sollten wir nicht weiter hinnehmen, und mir ist völlig unerklärlich, wie man eigentlich diesem extremen Internetkapitalismus von einigen auch noch befördern kann, während die anderen „America first!“ rufen und unsere Daten missbrauchen und unsere künstlerischen Inhalte ausbeuten. Da sollten wir langsam mal anfangen auch an der Seite unserer europäischen Kreativen zu stehen, unsere Werte schützen, ansonsten droht hier eine kreative Insolvenz.

Es geht bei dieser Reform aber auch darum, existierendes Recht, nämlich Urheberrecht und das Grundrecht auf Eigentum hier in eine Balance zu bringen und nicht dem kulturellen Diebstahl hier weitestgehend die Türen zu öffnen. Was spricht denn dagegen, dass wir Urheberrechtsverstöße vermeiden wollen? Was spricht dagegen, dass wir eine faire Vergütung für Journalisten, Verlage und Künstler wollen? Und was spricht dagegen, dass große Plattformen mehr Verantwortung übernehmen müssen?

Die extreme Kampagne, der wir im Moment ausgesetzt sind, vor allem von Google, Facebook und Amazon, die hier ins Haus getragen werden, die sogar Kinder von Abgeordneten betreffen da sie angerufen werden, das alles beruht auf Lügen. Sie finden keinerlei Beeinträchtigungen für den Einzelnen der User. Jeder kann weiterhin seine Links setzen, jeder kann weiterhin mit Rechtssicherheit seine Uploads durchführen. Und zum ersten Mal haftet der Einzelne sogar…

Pavel Telička: Mr. Voss, please conclude. You have run out of your two minutes, please.

Axel Voss:
…haftet der Einzelne sogar nicht mehr für Urheberrechtsverletzungen.

Pavel Telička: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Voss.

02:44 Catherine Stihler on the need for more time to address public concerns

Pavel Telička: So, we will now proceed with Mrs. Stihler, who can speak for two minutes. [unintelligible]

Catherine Stihler: Thank you, Mr. President and colleagues. I want to thank everyone for the work they have done on this important file. We are all united in our shared mission to protect artists and cultural diversity in Europe. And I speak as rapporteur in the IMCO committee, which is the only committee to share joined competency on one of the most controversial articles, article thirteen. In our committee, we were able to reach a broad compromise which makes meaningful progress on the value gap, but at the same time safeguarding the rights of European internet users, SME’s and start-ups.
I deeply regret that the IMCO position has not been taken into account, and the jury text has not achieved the needed balance. There are real concerns about the effect of article thirteen on freedom of expression, raised by experts ranging from the UN special rapporteur David Kaye to the inventor of the world-wide-web Sir Tim Berners-Lee. And there are real concerns voiced by our citizens. Just yesterday, I received a petition signed by almost a million people, against the jury committee mandate. And although…

Pavel Telička: Colleagues, I would appreciate your patience. Mrs. Stihler has the right to speak in opposition for two minutes. Mrs. Stihler, please continue.

Catherine Stihler:
…there is consensus about the goals behind this law, huge controversy still exists about the methods proposed. Something is not right here. We owe it to the experts, stakeholders, and citizens to give this directive the full debate necessary to achieve broad support.
Dear colleagues, I ask you to refuse to fast-track this law, to allow for a broad, fact-based debate in September. Please reject the mandate and vote against the jury proposal. Thank you, colleagues.

04:44 Voting begins

Pavel Telička:Thank you, Mrs. Stihler, we will now proceed with the vote. It is local vote. The vote is open.

04:53 Voting results

Pavel Telička: The vote is closed. And that has been rejected, which means that the…
The committee’s decision has been rejected, and therefore the committee may not start the negotiations. The committee’s report will be placed on the agenda of the following part session.

00:22 English translation of the statement by Axel Voss – Why the proposed bill is favorable for artists and users

Axel Voss: Thank you very much, Mr. President. All of us have intense discussions behind us, but what is this reform all about? It is about ending the exploitation of European artists that is taking place on the internet. We are talking about the big US platforms such as Google and Facebook, which have been making huge profits for years on the backs of European creatives. We should no longer stand for that, and I am completely baffled that one might even be able to support this extreme internet capitalism of a few, while others are yelling “America first!”, misusing our data, and exploiting our artistic content. We should slowly but surely start to stand side by side with our European creatives and protect our values, else we face creative bankruptcy.

This reform is also about finding a balance between existing right, that is, copyright, and the fundamental right to ownership instead of opening our doors to cultural theft. What is to be said against striving to avoid copyright infringement? What is to say against wanting fair remuneration for journalists, editors, and artists? And what is to say against more accountability for big platforms?
The extreme campaign we are seeing right now, especially from Google, Facebook, and Amazon, which is brought inside of this house and which also affects the children of delegates who receive phone calls, relies on lies. You will find no impairments for individual users. Everyone can continue to link to something, everyone can continue to upload content with legal security. And, for the first time, the individual is not liable for copyright infringement any more.