Google takes aim as MEPs agree EU copyright reforms

26 March 2019, 12:49 | Updated: 26 March 2019, 13:47

Google says an overhaul of the EU's copyright laws will backfire to "hurt" the very people they are trying to protect.

The company spoke out moments after it emerged that MEPs at the European Parliament in Strasbourg had voted in favour of the changes, aimed at restoring the power of creators over their own material.

The shake-up - watered down from a previous set of proposals - will see digital sharing platforms such as Google's YouTube, Facebook's Instagram, Twitter and Reddit be liable for a so-called "link tax" when third-party material is posted.

They will also have to install filters to block copyright violations.

It is all part of a move, the European Commission says, to protect Europe's cultural heritage and talent while also ensuring they are also properly compensated.

The measures were demanded by publishers, broadcasters and independent music labels - the latter being supported by global stars including Abba's Benny Andersson.

Google has been the most vocal critic from the start of the process two years ago.

Critics say the measure could potentially ruining the whole internet experience and lead to over-blocking to ensure compliance.

They also point to potential risks from sharing things with family and friends such as holiday videos as they may contain background music for which an artist should be paid.

Monique Goyens, head of consumer lobbying body BEUC, told the Reuters news agency in advance of the vote: "This is not the modernised copyright law that creators and consumers need, but rather another attempt to protect an industry that has consistently resisted to deal with the impact of technological change on their business model."

Google said on Tuesday the reforms would "produce legal uncertainty and hurt the bloc's creative and digital economies".

It pledged to work with the EU and the other stakeholders during the implementation period.