Kent Walker, Google vice president and general counsel. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM Kent Walker, Google vice president and general counsel. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president of global affairs, called on European policymakers to amend a controversial copyright directive that critics claim would stifle online creativity.

In a blog post Sunday, Walker, who leads Google’s legal team, said Article 11 and Article 13 of the EU Copyright Directive “would not help, but rather hold back, Europe’s creative and digital economy.”

Article 13 requires Google and other online platforms to filter unlicensed copyrighted material from their sites, which could impact remixes and memes. Walker said recent changes to Article 13 were an improvement, protecting platforms making a “good-faith effort” to remove clear copyright violations.

“At the same time, the directive creates vague, untested requirements, which are likely to result in online services over-blocking content to limit legal risk,” Walker wrote. “And services like [Google subsidiary] YouTube accepting content uploads with unclear, partial, or disputed copyright information could still face legal threats.”

Smaller platforms may lack the resources to remove every post that could be subject to copyright, Walker warned, leading to reduced competition for platforms online. Google’s data protection officer Keith Enright has raised similar concerns about the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.

The EU Copyright Directive’s Article 11 would implement a “link tax,” allowing publishers to charge platforms such as Google for displaying anything more than “individual words and very short extracts” from their stories.

“This narrow approach will create uncertainty, and again may lead online services to restrict how much information from press publishers they show to consumers,” Walker said. “Cutting the length of snippets will make it harder for consumers to discover news content and reduce overall traffic to news publishers, as shown by one of our recent search experiments.”

He said Article 11′s definition of applicable “press publications” is too broad. The directive’s final text defines publishers as “collection of literary works of a journalistic nature … having the purpose of providing information related to news or other topics and published in any media.”

Walker urged EU policymakers to clarify this definition and reconsider Article 13, which could have “unintended consequences that may hurt Europe’s creative economy for decades to come” before their final vote on the directive.

Google did not immediately respond to request for additional comment.

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