EU gives final approval to the new Copyright Directive, with its controversial Article 11 and 13 provisions, after 19 of the 28 member countries voted in favor (Chris O'Brien/VentureBeat)

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The European Union has officially approved a controversial and sweeping reform of its copyright rules to protect content creators but that includes provisions critics and tech giants have argued will signficantly reduce free speech online.

The rules were passed by the European Parliament last month, but still needed the final approval of member governments to go into effect. Opponents were hoping to make one last stand against the legislation, but instead 19 of the 28 member countries voted in favor of the overhaul.

“With today’s agreement, we are making copyright rules fit for the digital age,” said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in a statement. “Europe will now have clear rules that guarantee fair remuneration for creators, strong rights for users and responsibility for platforms. When it comes to completing Europe’s digital single market, the copyright reform is the missing piece of the puzzle.”

The Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market — or the EU Copyright Directive — has been debated for several years. But it’s been controversial primarily because of two elements that caused the internet to freak out.

The first is Article 11, which requires websites to pay publishers a fee if they display excerpts of


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