Mar 26, 2019

Europe approves copyright rules over tech and activist objections

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

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 932,605 — Total deaths: 46,809 — Total recoveries: 193,177Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 213,372 — Total deaths: 4,757 — Total recoveries: 8,474Map.
  3. Business updates: Very small businesses are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus job crisis.
  4. World update: Spain’s confirmed cases surpassed 100,000, and the nation saw its biggest daily death toll so far. More than 500 people were reported dead within the last 24 hours in the U.K., per Johns Hopkins.
  5. State updates: Florida and Pennsylvania are the latest states to issue stay-at-home orders — Michigan has more than 9,000 confirmed cases, an increase of 1,200 and 78 new deaths in 24 hours.
  6. Stock market updates: Stocks closed more than 4% lower on Wednesday, continuing a volatile stretch for the stock market amid the coronavirus outbreak.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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World coronavirus updates: Spain's health care system overloaded

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Two planes with protective equipment arrived to restock Spain’s overloaded public health system on Wednesday as confirmed cases surpassed 100,000 and the nation saw its biggest death toll so far, Reuters reports.

The big picture: COVID-19 cases surged past 900,000 and the global death toll surpassed 45,000 early Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy has reported more than 12,000 deaths.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

FBI sees record number of gun background checks amid coronavirus

Guns on display at a store in Manassas, Va. Photo: Yasin Ozturk / Anadolu Agency via Getty

The FBI processed a record 3.7 million gun background checks in March — more than any month previously reported, according to the agency's latest data.

Driving the news: The spike's timing suggests it may be driven at least in part by the coronavirus.