There is unprecedented public opposition against Article 13 and other aspects of the EU Copyright Directive: This weekend, up to 200.000 people took to the streets across Europe. Meanwhile, the petition against it has reached the incredible milestone of 5 million signatures. Will the European Parliament listen?

(Scrollable panorama photo from the Berlin protest)

Tuesday, March 26 around 13:00 CET is the moment of truth: All 751 Members of the European Parliament will vote on the law. The vote will be streamed live.

Here’s what will be voted on specifically:

1. Reject the entire law?

  • Vote on the most far-reaching proposed change: The rejection of the entire Copyright Directive (Amendment 266, EFDD group)

If a majority of those present is in favour, there will be no copyright reform. This is highly unlikely.

2. Allow changes?

An MEP will request to hold votes on specific proposed changes (amendments) to the law, giving a short speech explaining why this should be done. Axel Voss will speak on why it shouldn’t.

  • Vote on whether to allow votes on changes

If a majority is in favour, proceed to #3
Else proceed to #4B

3. Votes on changes

  • Vote to approve the parts of the law that nobody requested to change – likely to pass

Then MEPs will vote on proposals for changes:

I. Article 11 – the “link tax”

  • Delete Article 11? (Amendments 267+270 filed by/on behalf of 108 MEPs)
  • Otherwise: Keep Article 11 as is?

(In the unlikely event that neither of the options receive support, Article 11 is reverted to the Commission’s original proposal from 2016.)

II. Article 13 – upload filters

  • Delete Article 13? (Amendments 257+265+268+269 filed by/on behalf of 205 MEPs)
  • Otherwise: Keep Article 13 as is?
  • Otherwise: New wording for Article 13 (Amendment 260, GUE group) – unlikely to pass

(In the unlikely event that none of the options receive support, Article 13 is reverted to the Commission’s original proposal from 2016.)

III. Other changes

  • Insert an article on ”non-retroactivity” and various new recitals (explanatory remarks)? (Amendments 253-256 + 258 + 259 + 261, GUE group) – not coordinated with other groups and thus very unlikely to pass.
  • Clean up: Delete recitals relating to Article 13? (Amendments 262-264, several S&D MEPs)

4. Adopt the law

If the above votes changed the text (anything but “keep as is” got a majority):

A. Adopt the changed law

  • At this point, Axel Voss could request a vote to send the text back to the Legal Affairs Committee so he can try again to negotiate in trilogue a text that has majority support
  • Otherwise: Vote on whether to adopt the law with the changes just made. The law will then be sent to the Council (representing the EU member state governments), which will have two choices: Accept the Parliament’s changes and thus automatically pass the law, or reject them and thus continue negotiations.
  • Otherwise: Vote on the original Commission text from 2016 – very unlikely

If further negotiations are needed, they would need to take place after the European elections in May – it’s hard to predict the outcome, since the responsible Commissioner as well as the majorities in the Parliament will change.

If, however, the Parliament voted not to allow changes, or the votes on changes ended up not actually modifying the law (the “keep as is” options won and no other proposals were adopted):

B. Adopt the law unchanged

  • Vote to adopt the law unchanged (Amendment 271, JURI Committee)
  • Finally, there will be a vote to officially take note of a statement by the Commission that it will look into new rights for sports event organisers  (Amendment 272, Voss/JURI Committee) – the Parliament had proposed adding such a right to the Copyright Directive, but it was subsequently dropped in trilogue.

The final remaining step is then for the Council to adopt the law as well, which is likely to take place on April 9. However, Germany, whose Minister of Justice has come out in opposition of upload filters, could still retract its support, which would make a majority unlikely and thus also lead to further negotiations after the EU elections in May.

To the extent possible under law, the creator has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this work.


  1. 1
    Michael zoutendijk

    Good explanation! I always thought that it was just 1 vote yes or no… Obviously not…

  2. 2
    Petr Gašparík

    Thank you for brief summary of this complicated issue.