The UK, the Republic of Ireland, France and Germany were among the 19 nations that today gave the thumbs-up to the EU's Copyright Directive, meaning it should get pushed through the day after tomorrow.
The Directive – a refreshing of European copyright law last updated in 2001 – is widely regarded as an attempt to curb the powers of the tech giants that have since dominated the dissemination of films, words and music everywhere. The political bloc has positioned it as "modernised rules fit for digital age".
The new rules include the hugely contentious article 17 and much-disputed article 15 – previously known as 13 and 11 respectively. The former has been branded meme-killer by its critics while its advocates maintain it protects creative rights.
Tweaks to the law to do with parody and pastiche, however, mean that memes will live on long enough to be deemed uncool by the gate-keeping PFY in most offices by the time you know about them.
Six member states – including Italy, the Netherlands and Poland – voted against the directive, and Slovenia, Belgium and Estonia abstained.
Article 13 – now numbered as 17 – means that tech firms (there are exceptions for researchers and other entities) will have to get licences from rights-holders to be able to host content. It also obliges firms like Facebook and Google – at which the new laws appear to be firmly aimed – to take technical measures to ensure copyright takedown requests are respected. Platforms that rely on user-generated content are expected to be affected.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki had previously warned that making Google's vid-hosting platform liable for infringements on copyrighted material would "shut down the ability of millions of people" to upload videos, and effectively knock huge swathes of content offline in Europe.
Meanwhile, Article 15 – the artist formerly known as 11 – taxes would-be news aggregators – like say, er, Google – for using publishers' copyrighted content. While critics have called it the "link tax", hyperlinks and "snippets" are not included in its remit.
At the time of publication, Google had not made an official statement, but we've asked for its comment.
Calling the copyright reform "the missing piece of the puzzle" that would complete Europe's "digital single market", European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "Europe will now have clear rules that guarantee fair remuneration for creators, strong rights for users and responsibility for platforms."
The directive still needs the inky signatures of the president of European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, and the European Council, Donald Tusk, and is slated to become law on Wednesday 17 April at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
The actual impact of the law and how it plays out in practice remains to be seen. The member states will have two years to transpose the thing into their respective national legislations.
Click here to see the explicit voting video. The Reg had planned to embed the thing, but the Council of the EU had included ugly reams of text in a massive iframe. Then we turned to YouTube and thought... Um. Nah! ®