Wrong button? 10 MEPs who voted to reject debate on Article 13 say they didn’t mean to
A total of 13 MEPs have issued corrections to their voting on Tuesday, when the European Parliament narrowly rejected debating amendments that might have watered down or even completely erased Articles 11 and 13 from the updated EU copyright rules.
Instead, the lawmakers voted to bypass additional debate on the highly contentious provisions by 317 votes against 312, and proceeded to pass the entire legislation by 348 votes to 274.
According to European Parliament voting guidelines, MPs can register corrections to their votes, but without changing the actual result, which is done and dusted once the voting is finished.
Marietje Schaake, MEP from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party, drew attention to the fateful mistake on Twitter as soon as corrections were published by the European Parliament.
A total of 13 MEPs said that they did not intend to vote the way they did. Of these, 10 said they wanted to vote for amendments, but instead voted against them; while two MEPs had it the other way around. One MEP claimed that he wanted to abstain from the vote altogether.
Schaake noted that the new count would have allowed the debate to be reopened which, potentially, could have paved the way for Articles 11 and 13 to be revised or repealed.
“History is a dime on its side,” she wrote.
Earlier, the Sweden Democrats party, whose two MEPs were among those who mistakenly voted against the amendments, issued a statement saying that they had pushed the wrong buttons. The party said its MEPs were confused by the change of vote order during the session.
“Today we had three push-button votes on the Copyright Directive. On one of the votes, we pressed the wrong button: the vote on the order in which we would vote. If it had gone through we could’ve voted on deleting Article 13, which we wanted,” the party said in a statement.
However, some found it hard to believe that so many MEPs were careless during a vote that had even the most apolitical denizens of the internet glued to the European Parliament proceedings. They suggested the MEPs wanted to escape backlash by claiming they would have voted for more scrutiny.
The new legislation has been met with cheers from big publishers and record labels, and dismay from the rest of the internet, with many fearing it will kill creative freedom with big tech like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter being forced to block content that might infringe on copyright. It has been suggested that online platforms can embed filters that would automatically analyze the content being uploaded, compare it to a database of copyrighted works, and stop it from being released if found in violation of copyright law.
Article 11 of the law known as the “link tax” requires a blogger, a news aggregator or a media-monitoring website to seek permission from the copyright owner to share links and snippets of its content.
However, for many netizens the most nefarious part of the directive is that it could have outlawed memes and GIFs, previously protected under a parody clause. Many breathed a sigh of relief when the European Parliament noted that sharing memes and GIFs would be “specifically excluded” from its scope, but others remain skeptical about an automated filter’s ability to tell parody from copyright infringement.
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Featured image: Members of the European Parliament take part in a voting session on modifications to EU copyright reforms at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, March 26, 2019. © REUTERS/Vincent Kessler