The European Parliament has controversially voted in favour of a copyright directive intended to modernise copyright law in the digital age.
The directive is designed to give power to content creators and ensure that they receive a fair share of revenue for their work. However, there is heavy opposition to the new laws, which are due to be finalised by the end of the year. The basis of the opposition is that the laws has the potential to undermine the free internet, restricting our rights to freedom of information.
What can these new laws and restrictions mean for SEO?
1. Hyperlinks & the “Link Tax”
Hyperlinks are fundamental to SEO and search engines have been designed around the concept that good links are an indication of a website’s authority. Initially, there was discussion on having a “link tax” on hyperlinks that would likely prevent sites from linking to each other freely. An amendment to the legislation clearly states that hyperlinks to websites will be free from copyright restraints, provided that they are accompanied by single words.
Impact on SEO: 0/5
Since the launch of the Penguin algorithm around 7 years ago now, the use of unoriginal duplicate content for SEO gain became severely diminished. Therefore in SEO, businesses shifted towards a far stronger focus producing useful and original content. This is unlikely to change for non-publishing businesses.
However, if you are a publisher and rely heavily on repurposing news content, there will be additional costs when quoting bodies of text. Another potential impact can be that these additional costs can reduce the number of sites referencing and linking to your content, which would mean that publishing sites with a large number of existing links will have a competitive advantage on new sites where links will be more difficult to obtain.
Impact on SEO: 2/5
3. Platform filtering
A provision in Article 13 of the new directive requires internet platforms to filter uploads for copyright infringement. The initial consensus is that this will put an end to much of the memes and gifs that get shared freely on social networks.
Viral memes and gifs have little benefit for SEO as they are shared on social platforms and messaging apps with little to no reference of the source.
Impact on SEO: 0/5
Member states of the EU have two years to pass laws that will bring their laws in line with the new regulations after the directive passes. The challenge will be how much of the new rules can actually be effectively implemented. We expect that there will be other more significant changes in SEO in the next two years than the new EU copyright directive.