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Google issues warning to EU against copyright reforms as compromise looms

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Google has warned against planned EU copyright reforms that would make internet companies liable for infringements and require them to pay for publishing press snippets, amid signs that a compromise is emerging on the controversial measures.

The overhaul, proposed by the European Union’s executive in 2016, aims to make EU copyright rules fit for the digital age by ensuring that artists and news publishers are fairly remunerated for work that appears online.

However, critics charge that the measures will damage the free exchange of information, with some media outlets warning they could spell “the death of the internet.”

Google Senior Vice President and General Counsel Kent Walker warned of the reform’s unintended consequences, in a blog post published on Thursday.

“Restricting the amount of news Google can republish to weblinks and short fragments of headlines would cause a substantial traffic loss to news publishers,’’ Walker said.

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He added that holding internet companies liable for copyright infringements would harm Europe’s creative economy.

EU member states are trying to hash out a common position on the reforms in order to strike a deal with the European Parliament, which agreed its position in September.

According to a draft text seen by dpa, in recent days, France and Germany agreed on a compromise that would exempt smaller companies from the provisions on copyright infringements.

This paves the way for a possible agreement among member states as soon as Friday, with a view to concluding negotiations with parliament coming week.

Efforts to strike a deal failed three weeks ago due to disagreement between France and Germany.

However, the parliament’s chief negotiator, Axel Voss, told dpa he was disappointed with their compromise.


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