EU’s Juncker unveils radical copyright reform


STRASBOURG, France: The EU will overhaul copyright law to shake up how online news and entertainment is paid for in Europe, under proposals announced by European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday.

Pop stars such as Coldplay and Lady Gaga will hail part of the plan as a new weapon to bring a fair fight to YouTube, the Google-owned video service that they say is sapping the music business.

But the reform plans have attracted the fury of filmmakers and start-up investors who see it as a threat to European innovation and a wrong-headed favor to powerful media groups.

“I want journalists, publishers and authors to be paid fairly for their work, whether it is made in studios or living rooms, whether it is disseminated offline or online, whether it is published via a copying machine or commercially hyperlinked on the web,” Juncker said as he gave his annual State of the Union speech.

The overhaul is meant to bring European copyright law up to date with the digital age to make the world’s largest trading bloc more competitive in a tough global field.

One major change would force internet portals such as Google or Reddit to pay newspaper publishers a license fee when using small extracts or snippets of news content — most notably on Google News or Huffington Post.

“The commission’s plan to create a copyright for news publishers in Europe is a significant and historic step,” said Carlo Perrone, head of the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association.

But opponents say this idea punishes smaller publishers and is highly ineffective, as proven when both Germany and Spain created similar systems.


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