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MEPS reject controversial copyright 'meme law'

The European Commission shared a number of memes on Twitter to counter rumours that they would be banned 

MEPs have voted to reject a proposed overhaul of EU copyright law which had received the support of high-profile musicians and the creative industries and condemnation from large online technology companies.

The EU Parliament voted 318 to 278 against a committee proposal known as the EU Copyright Directive, in its current form, with 31 MEPs abstaining.

Under the proposed directive,, online content platforms like Google and Facebook would have been required to use filtering systems that block content — such as images and videos — that infringes the rights-holder’s copyright. It was feared many 'memes' that use copyrighted film clips would be banned.

The decision comes despite artists including Sir Paul McCartney and opera signer Placido Domingo signing an open letter calling for politicians to back the change ahead of the vote.

McCartney said he believed the changes would have encouraged online upload platforms to pay songwriters and performers fairly for use of their work.

Geoff Taylor, the chief executive of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and Brit Awards, said: "We respect the decision by MEPs to have a plenary discussion on the draft Copyright Directive.

"We will work with MEPs over the next weeks to explain how the proposed directive will benefit not just European creativity, but also internet users and the technology sector."

The European Parliament will return to the issue in September, where its position will be up for debate, amendment and another vote in the next plenary session.

Reacting to the result of Thursday's vote Richard Ashcroft, the chief executive of recording artists' royalties collector PRS for Music, said: "It is perhaps unsurprising considering the unprecedented level of lobbying and the comprehensive campaign of misinformation which has accompanied this vote that MEPs want more time to consider the proposals.

"The vote showed that many MEPs across the various European political parties understand the importance of fixing the transfer of value and of a well-functioning market for copyright.

"We appreciate their support and hope that as we move forward to the Plenary debate in September, more MEPs will recognise the unique opportunity to secure the EU's creative industries."

The chief executive of UK Music, which represents the interests of the country's commercial music industry, said it was a "sad day".

Michael Dugher added: "It is desperately disappointing that a small majority of MEPs have backed Google's shabby multi-million euro campaign of fake news and misinformation against creators.

"Frankly, in some cases MEPs were naive. In others cases, they have chosen to wilfully disregard the plight of creators. These proposals would make a real difference to our creators, to those that invest in them and to all of us who value our culture.

"Google's YouTube is the world's most popular music platform, yet it deliberately chooses to return a pittance to those whose creativity it has built its multi-billion pound business model on. Google remain the vultures that feed off music creators. The fact remains that this must end."

The Press Association has contacted Google for comment.

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