THE way music, memes and news articles are shared online could be affected by a controversial vote in the European Parliament to overhaul copyright law.

The Copyright Directive, which will now go to each EU member state for final approval, includes measures to make the likes of Twitter, Google and Facebook take responsibility for the copyright status of material posted by users.

Other reforms would include stronger negotiating rights for musicians, in a bid to help them claim royalty payments from big tech firms.

The directive was supported by 438 members, while 226 voted against and 39 abstained, after MEPs opted to revise the law in an earlier vote in July.

The law has divided many, with musicians including Paul McCartney saying that the reforms are necessary to fairly compensate artists, while critics such as Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales have argued that the impact will fall most on ordinary users of the internet.

Two parts of the law, Article 11 and Article 13, have been most contentious since the start of talks to change copyright rules.

Article 11, dubbed by opponents as a “link tax”, would require online platforms like Google News to pay news organisations for the articles they link to.

Article 13 would make big online platforms like YouTube and Facebook responsible for scanning content for anything copyrighted and ensuring the holders are paid a fair fee, which critics warn could extend to parodies and memes being “caught in the crosshairs”.

Julia Reda, a prominent German MEP against the law changes, tweeted her reaction to the vote, describing it as “catastrophic”.

Conservative MEPs who backed the measures celebrated the move, saying the law was now “at last catching up with the digital age”.

The SNP’s European group, Ian Hughton and Alyn Smith, refused to back the proposals.

In a joint statement, they said: “Throughout the negotiation process, we have fought to get the right legislative balance for creators to get their fair share of remuneration, and for public digital users.

“However the current text of the directive includes some provisions that have far-reaching consequences for digital users, for example due to the potential imposition of content filters.”

They continued: “We remain concerned that unless changed these proposals could create an entirely new surveillance system that will impinge on the privacy and commercial rights of individual European citizens.

“There is the undeniable right for creators to be properly compensated for their work, and we have always supported that right.

“On the other hand we must also seek to protect the public who have the right to freedom of expression. To date, we do not have the necessary legal framework that balances these two principles.

“On balance we could not support the proposals, but we will continue to pay close attention to this dossier as it progresses to its next stage.”

Sajjad Karim, Conservative legal affairs spokesman, argued that previous concerns had been satisfied.

Karim said: “This legislation is now better balanced, answering many of the concerns of journalists, publishers and musicians whose work was being shared freely online without stifling innovation or fundamentally changing the nature of the internet.”

“It also takes into account the rights of users, ensuring that materials used for teaching and research, and by cultural and heritage organisations, are not encumbered by unnecessary restrictions.”

Start-ups, small companies and non-commercial encyclopaedias will be exempt.

A final deal will be discussed with member states before being put to a final vote in January 2019.