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New EU copyright law to come down hard on Google and Facebook

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A controversial new EU copyright law promises to toughen up penalties on web giants like Google and Facebook if “protected” content from publishers, authors and artists is shared online. Stock photo

A controversial new EU copyright law promises to toughen up penalties on web giants like Google and Facebook if “protected” content from publishers, authors and artists is shared online. Stock photo

A controversial new EU copyright law promises to toughen up penalties on web giants like Google and Facebook if “protected” content from publishers, authors and artists is shared online. Stock photo

A controversial new EU copyright law promises to toughen up penalties on web giants such as Google and Facebook if "protected" content from publishers, authors and artists is shared online.

The move, which has been agreed by European countries and now faces a vote in the European Parliament, would mean services such as YouTube and Twitter could face stiff penalties if any of their users share clips or copyrighted material.

The law has been campaigned for by media publishers, movie companies and others, which complain that companies such as Google and Facebook aren't punished enough when people share copyrighted content online.

But critics of the new law fear it is overly restrictive and could lead to a general clampdown on free speech within Europe.

According to an EU spokesman, the new law allows people to upload a limited amount of "protected works" for the purposes of "quotation, criticism, review, caricature, parody or pastiche". This, the spokesman said, was designed to overcome fears "memes and gifs" would be banned in Europe under the new law.

The spokesman said sharing snippets of news articles "will not engage the rights of the media house which produced the shared article… provided it is very short".

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