A new EU copyright law? One does not simply change the EU Copyright Directive!

14 September 2018

Author: Peter Lamont
Practice Area: Commercial Law
Sector: Brexit


EU lawmakers have voted to pass controversial copyright reform proposals that could change how internet companies treat uploaded content from users.

Peter Lamont, a solicitor in the commercial team of Carson McDowell, said:

“Today’s vote on the new EU Copyright proposals will spell significant changes to the way we use the internet and might even mean the end of our beloved memes and viral jokes. A fast track version of the new directive was rejected by the European Parliament back in July, but having resurfaced with over 200 amendments the legislation has now appeared for a second vote, which has passed.”

“This has seen some of the most intense lobbying wars in EU history – pitting the likes of Sir Paul McCartney and James Blunt, who are in favour of this new change, against the giants of Google, YouTube and Twitter.”

“Those in favour argued that it is a much needed development to fight against internet piracy and ensure that artists receive proper accounting of how well their work is doing, and a proper share of the profits if they do well. However, those opposing the change warned that it is dangerous move towards censorship and over-regulation that could have many unintended consequences.”

“Articles 11 and 13 of the directive have attracted the vast majority of the debate. Article 11 concerns snippets of news content and seeks to compensate publishers for their investment in journalism by letting them charge for the use of text snippets from news articles — instead of only being ‘paid’ in traffic. The concern here is that Article 11 becomes a “link tax” and restricts users’ sharing of news content.”

“Article 13 will make online platforms liable in some form for the copyright infringement of their users. This could lead to, what some commentators are calling, automatic “copyright filters” which would scan all user content, such as YouTube uploads or Facebook posts, for copyright infringement. Due to the enormous quantity of user generated content on these platforms it is argued that the large scale automatic scanning machines would be unable to differentiate between fair-use and illegal piracy which would lead to the blocking of fair use content, satire and humorous memes.”

“Regarding positive implications, many assert that Article 13 will lead to more equitable recompense from large websites for the streaming of authors’ and artists’ copyrighted content and will act to more efficiently and practically prevent online piracy.”