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EU parliament approves copyright law in blow to big tech

AFP  |  Strasbourg 

The on Wednesday approved a controversial EU law that hands more power to and record companies against like and

Backing the draft were traditional media, in of income at a time when shun newspapers and television and is siphoned away by

The dramatic vote in the French city of confirmed the as Silicon Valley's most and follows anti-trust decisions that have cost and Apple billions.

is also leading the political charge on protecting data privacy, and just ahead of the vote warned it could hold them responsible for terrorist propaganda.

European lawmakers were sharply divided on the issue, with both sides engaging in one of the biggest rounds of lobbying that the EU has ever seen. But, despite uncertainty ahead of the vote, MEPs meeting in ended up passing the with 438 votes in favour, 226 against, and 39 abstentions.

The text MEPs settled on compromised on some of the ways organisations will charge companies for links to content, with platforms free to use "a few words" of text, according to an amendment.

It also slightly watered down a proposal for so-called upload filters that will make platforms -- such as or -- liable for copyright breaches and force them to automatically delete content by violators.

EU commissioners and Mariya Gabriel, who proposed the reform, dubbed the vote "a strong and positive signal and an essential step to achieving our common objective of modernising the copyright rules in the "

French Emmanuel Macron, who firmly backed the reform, hailed "a great step forward for Europe".

"I am proud that has been at the forefront of this fight," he added on his account.

The draft had been fiercely resisted by US tech giants as well as online freedom activists, with some campaigners warning it could spell the end of viral "memes" or jokes.

They also fear that automatic filters to prevent users sharing content subject to copyright could be misused to censor political messages or other forms of free expression.

MEPs can now start negotiations with the representing the 28 member states which had already reached a compromise on the issue in May. These closed-door discussions, which also include the European Commission, are known in EU jargon as "trilogues" and can take several months before any compromise is put to a fresh vote.

Proponents of the reform would like a law before the European elections in May 2019, when many fear an influx of eurosceptic MEPs with little use for the measure.

The bitter lobbying battle was over two parts of the The first and most contentious was Article 13, which would make platforms like Google-owned legally liable if their users share copyrighted material, to prevent content producers being ripped off.

Critics say the change will lead in effect to blanket censorship of platforms that have become an for creativity as well as the prime source of entertainment -- at the expense of TV -- for younger generations.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, September 12 2018. 19:40 IST