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Photo: Jens Kalaene/picture alliance via Getty Images

The European Union's parliament signed off on a controversial copyright law on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The rules have been criticized by major web companies as well as activists. They say that it will undermine basic principles of the internet that have allowed content to flow freely across the web.

Article 11 of the law, the so-called "link tax," would require sites like Facebook and Google to pay a fee when they summarize news stories and link to them.

  • Supporters believe this will stop Big Tech from unfairly profiting from the work of news organizations who have been hit hard by loss of revenue to digital platforms.
  • Opponents believe this may ultimately cause smaller sites, blogs and even the same news outlets the law is meant to protect to have to pay for the right to use links.

Article 13 of the law requires sites that distribute user-uploaded content — like YouTube or Facebook — to ensure that content doesn't violate copyright.

  • The problem, say critics, is that to accomplish this on a large scale, sites like YouTube would have to rely on automated scanning algorithms, which would inevitably cause more legitimate content to be swept up in the dragnet.

What they're saying: Critics were dismayed. The Electronic Frontier Foundation said that the bloc had "abandoned common-sense and the advice of academics, technologists, and UN human rights experts."

The bigger picture: European lawmakers and regulators have taken the most aggressive action to rein in the giants of Silicon Valley.

  • EU competition commission Margrethe Vestager has pursued antitrust cases against Google and a major tax case against Apple.

What's next? The EU's member states need to sign off on the parliament's decision. Once they do that, they will have two years to add them to their own legal codes.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
48 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.

Off the Rails

Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 2: Trump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear. Read episode 1.

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.