MEPs on a powerful European committee today voted to back a controversial copyright crackdown which will dramatically infringe on citizen rights in Scotland and across the UK.
The European Parliament’s legal affairs committee supported the proposal to place a strict ‘monitoring obligation’ on sites such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube to sift through uploads by users.
There are fears it will decimate local journalism in Scotland and put more journalists’ jobs at risk through the automatic removal of online links to news articles on copyright grounds, while uploads such as memes, GIFs and music remixes may also be taken down because the copyright does not belong to the uploader.
Brexit does not offer a get-out clause as online platforms which operate in any EU member state will comply, and UK MEPs will lose their ability to change the rules.
Scottish Labour MEP Catherine Stihler – vice-chair of the European Parliament’s consumer protection committee – will seek to challenge the decision with the hope of securing a full vote of MEPs before Brexit. Her opposition to the crackdown is supported by Tory MEP for the West Midlands, Daniel Dalton.
Catherine Stihler said:
“This is an incredibly disappointing result, which I believe will lead to a fundamental breach of citizen rights and freedoms.
“There is a fine balance to be struck between online liability and citizen rights, and this does not do that.
“Putting quality journalism in Scotland at risk like this is unacceptable, especially when ‘fake news’ and conspiracy blogs are on the rise, while there will be widespread implications for anyone who wants to post images or material online that they do not own.
“I will now fight for a full meeting of the parliament to guarantee citizen rights for people in Scotland and across the UK, but the clock is ticking and we will lose our influence in Brussels if we cannot fix this before March. It’s yet another example of why Brexit is so short-sighted.”