Update – March 26, 2019: Articles 11 and 13 have been approved by the European Parliament.
Original article: The battle for the future of the internet is almost over. After a weekend of protests where almost 200,000 people took to the streets of Europe to protest the EU Copyright Directive, all 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will now get a final vote on this law tomorrow (Tuesday, March 26 at 12:30 CET).
If you’ve not been keeping up with Articles 11 (the link tax) and Article 13 (the meme ban) of this Directive, these terrible proposed laws will change the structure of the internet as we know it by requiring people to obtain a license when sharing links and requiring online platforms that host user-generated content to install an upload filter that blocks copyrighted content.
Tomorrow’s final vote (which is being live streamed here) could kill the EU Copyright Directive completely, lead to it being passed with amendments, or result in it being passed with no changes.
MEP Julia Reda has explained how tomorrow’s voting process will work and exactly what will be voted on. Here’s a breakdown of the process:
1. Vote to reject the entire EU Copyright Directive
According to Reda, this option is highly unlikely but MEPs could vote to reject the entire EU Copyright Directive. If this happens, there will be no copyright reform and Articles 11 and 13 will be squashed.
2. Vote to allow amendments to the EU Copyright Directive
If the Directive isn’t rejected outright, an MEP will then request specific proposed amendments to this law and give a short speech explaining why these amendments should be made. MEP Axel Voss will then give a short speech discussing why these amendments shouldn’t be made.
After the speeches, MEPs will vote on whether to allow votes on these amendments to the EU Copyright Directive. If they vote to allow amendments, the MEPs will then vote on each of the specific proposed amendments that are outlined below. If amendments are not allowed, MEPs will vote to adopt the law unchanged.
3. Vote to approve the parts of the EU Copyright Directive that nobody requested to change
If MEPs vote to allow amendments to the Directive, they will then vote on whether to pass the parts of the law that nobody has requested to change. Reda says that if the final vote gets to this stage, these undisputed changes are likely to pass.
4. Vote on each the specific amendments to the EU Copyright Directive
If the vote gets to this stage, MEPs will vote on whether to pass the following specific amendments:
A. Delete or keep Article 11
First, MEPs will be asked to vote on whether to delete Article 11. If this vote fails, they will then be asked to vote on whether to keep Article 11 as it is.
If both of these options are rejected, Article 11 will revert back to the European Commission’s original proposal from 2016.
B. Delete or keep Article 13
MEPs will initially be asked to vote on whether to delete Article 13. If this vote is unsuccessful, they will be asked to vote on whether to keep Article 13 as it is.
If this vote also fails, Article 13 will pass with some new wording which changes the definitions around “information society” service providers to “online content sharing” service providers.
C. Other amendments
After voting on the main amendments outlined above, MEPs will then be asked to vote on a number of other smaller amendments to the final text.
5. Vote to send the final text back to the Legal Affairs Committee
If any of the specific amendments are voted in, MEP Axel Voss can request a vote to send the text back to the Legal Affairs Committee in order to negotiate a new final text that has majority support. If this happens, all further voting will be suspended.
6. Vote to adopt the EU Copyright Directive with amendments
If Voss doesn’t send the text back to the Legal Affairs Committee, MEPs will be asked to vote on adopting the law with the amendments that have been voted in.
If this vote is successful, the amended final text will then be sent to the European Council which can vote to accept or reject the European Parliament’s changes. If the Council accepts the amended final text, the law will be passed. If the Council rejects the amended final text, there will be further negotiations on the final text which will take place after the European elections in May.
If this vote is unsuccessful, MEPs will be asked to vote on the European Commission’s original text from 2016. If the vote on the original Commission text is unsuccessful, MEPs will be asked to vote on adopting the Directive without any changes.
7. Vote to adopt the EU Copyright Directive without any changes
If the voting gets to this stage, MEPs will be asked to vote on adopting the EU Copyright Directive with no changes. If the vote is unsuccessful, further negotiations on the final text will take place after the European elections in May.
If this vote is successful, the MEPs will then be asked to vote to officially take note of a statement by the Commission that it will look into giving new rights to organizers of sporting event. Then the final text will be sent to the European Council which can vote to accept or reject the EU Copyright Directive.
If the Council accepts the Directive, it will become law. If the Council rejects the Directive, further negotiations on the Directive will take place after the European elections in May.