LIBE Committee remains silent on link tax

Am 21. November 2017 - 1:00 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Today, the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) has finally voted on its opinion on the Commission's proposal for a new copyright directive. While problematic provisions for mandatory content filtering have been tackled, the Committee did not take any stand when it came to the ancillary copyright for press publishers aka the link tax.

However, this is not necessarily a bad thing given that some hardliners tried to hijack the Committee by suddenly tabling amendments that were strongly in favour of the link tax. The LIBE Committee is responsible for citizen's human rights and particularly deals with data protection. Therefore, it had been agreed on in the past to solely focus on topics that fall into the Committee's sphere––which the link tax obviously does not. But MEPs like Axel Voss (EPP, Germany), Gérard Deprez (ALDE, Belgium) or Louis Michel (ALDE, Belgium) simply ignored this agreement and prepared a total of 12 amendments that would turn the already terrible proposal for a link tax into an even darker nightmare from an internet user's perspective.

Fortunately, some MEPs had come to reason before the vote started and withdrew their rogue amendments. In the case of the MEPs who did not follow this lead, their amendments have either not been voted on or were rejected by the majority. So in the end, the compromise amendments as prepared by rapporteur MEP Michał Boni plus two additional amendments all dealing with content filtering were adopted 36:5 (3 abstentions).

We are pleased to see that the Committee has focused on what its competencies are, although it "should have stepped up to truly protect free expression and deleted the flawed Article entirely", as OpenMedia’s Digital Rights Specialist Ruth Coustick-Deal said in reaction to today's vote.

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