We've been focusing on the trade war with China for the past several weeks, so it's time to shift our attention to Europe, where media companies have been lobbying strenuously for stiffer regulations over content. Even former Beatle Paul McCartney joined the battle, arguing in favor of stronger regulations to protect intellectual property.
This issue is highly relevant to CIOs at companies all over the world. Sooner or later, lawmakers in the U.S. and Europe will adopt far more stringent laws protecting copyrighted materials that many people routinely post on their company websites. When those tougher rules go into effect, CIOs will become responsible for weeding out protected content and providing proof of compliance. The tougher regulations would have a broad impact, and IT departments would likely play a role in enforcing the stronger rules.
The continuing push-pull between the content providers and the tech companies returned to the spotlight last week, when the European Parliament voted by a slender margin to reject a proposed set of stronger rules governing the use of copyrighted content. The decision is a temporary victory for the tech firms and a setback for media companies who want more control over how their content is distributed.
The media companies contend that tech giants such as Facebook and Google have far too much leeway in their use of content from media producers. The media firms were pressing for regulations that would require websites to use special algorithms to detect and block unlicensed content. It would have also forced the websites to pay for articles, images and music posted online.
"Media companies have been seeking a rewrite of Europe's copyright laws that would give them more power to restrict how their content is distributed. They also cited concerns that Silicon Valley was not playing a strong enough gatekeeper role when it came to curtailing hate speech, violent extremism and fake news," writes Adam Satariano of the New York Times.
The parliament's vote followed on the heels of an unusually vigorous campaign by the tech companies to paint the enhanced regulations as dangerous to Internet freedom. The European lawmakers were evidently swayed by those arguments.
"After a well-coordinated effort by companies including Facebook, Google, Reddit and Wikipedia, as well as a grass-roots campaign by backers of an open internet, the European Parliament on Thursday rejected the proposed copyright law. Though lawmakers can still revise the bill and call another vote, the result is a blow to media companies that had believed that, if ever there was a good time to impose tougher rules on tech giants, this was it," Satariano writes.