The European Parliament passed sweeping copyright legislation Wednesday that, much like its privacy regulations, could have impact far beyond Europe.
Critics argue that the most controversial part of the proposal will effectively force all but the smallest website operators to adopt "upload filters" similar to those used by YouTube, and apply them to all types of content, to stop users from uploading copyrighted works. That could pose problems, given how expensive such filters could be to develop, and the high likelihood of false positives.
The legislation will also require site owners to pay for displaying snippets of content. Critics have called this a "link tax," though links and search engine listings are exempted from the requirement.
The proposal "is likely to limit the sharing of online information," Gus Rossi, global policy director at Public Knowledge, said in a statement. "Web services large and small might decide to implement the directive globally, which would diminish American users' capacity to share memes, political satire, or news articles online."
Proponents of the proposal say it's necessary to protect artists whose work is pirated online, as well as newspapers and journalists at risk of having their business models undermined by social media giants. "It's a great day for the independent press and for democracy," a coalition for European publishers said in a statement.