The European Parliament on Wednesday voted in favour of a controversial copyright legislation after making several changes to a version it had rejected in July. The law aims to protect artists, journalists and other creators of content from the use of their work by online platforms and aggregators such as Google or YouTube.

The Parliament had rejected the proposed legislation in July, 318 votes to 278. On Wednesday, it approved it 438 votes to 226 in a meeting in Strasbourg, France. The legislation will now undergo deliberations between the Parliament and the European Council before a final vote, reported AFP.

European Union commissioners Andrus Ansip and Mariya Gabriel, who had proposed the reform, said the vote was “a strong and positive signal and an essential step to achieving our common objective of modernising the copyright rules in the European Union”. French President Emmanuel Macron called it “a great step forward for Europe”.

The controversy

Two sections of the draft law, Article 11 and Article 13, have been at the centre of a debate. Article 13 requires platforms to filter content with copyrighted material while Article 11 seeks to give news outlets and publishers a share of revenue from aggregators like Google that link to their work, BBC reported.

Critics feared that implementing the Article 13 – which is possible only with expensive computer systems and algorithms that monitor huge amount of content – would harm start-ups. The section was said to be harmful for content such as parodies, remixes and memes. Article 11, it was feared, could make using hyperlinks and even short snippets costly, affecting the way the web functions.

Critics included technology giants and proponents of online freedom.

The amendments

The Parliament passed a version that it said had “added safeguards to protect small firms and freedom of expression”.

The approved draft makes platforms liable to pay content creators even for snippets, but exempts “small and micro platforms”. Hyperlinks and “individual words” to describe the links will be free of copyright constraints.

Platforms will have to design systems that should not filter out “non-infringing works”, said the Parliament. They will also be required to establish human-operated “rapid redress systems” that will address complaints when algorithms wrongly take down uploads.

Non-commercial encyclopedias like Wikipedia and open-source software platforms such as Github will not have to comply with the rules, the Parliament said.