The EU Copyright Directive essentially seeks to apply and tweak existing copyright laws in the context of the internet. Some say the Directive will offer greater protection for those operating in the creative industries but, in some cases, also has the potential to be “catastrophic” for any company, organisation or group that provides an online service.
In this article, the MIA’s intellectual property partner, Briffa, explains why this Directive is being opposed by companies like YouTube…
We are in a generation where the technology has come on leaps and bounds, and the law is trying to play catch up. The EU is looking to tackle this by changing copyright law to keep up with the current technological advances. However, the pending EU Copyright Directive has come up against a number of opposers who have highlighted the negative consequences of implementing it.
So why is this directive being opposed by companies like YouTube? Well the pending copyright directive aims to hold websites liable for any type of content that could be infringing. The liability has a broad meaning which means that sites are liable for copyright infringement in respect of user-posted content. Whether comments, images or even sounds the owner of the site would be held liable. No wonder why YouTube and other major sites are so upset!
Not only do they have to worry about infringing copyright but commercially this would cause their costs to rise dramatically due to the need to urgently implement systems and filters to reduce copyright infringement. So it’s a lose/lose situation for such sites – either they incur high costs to filter infringing content out or they are penalised with massive fines.
Large companies such as YouTube or Tumblr have begun using systems to automatically filter out infringing comments but these companies have the means necessary to put such systems in place. Start-up businesses and SMEs could struggle to import such systems into their sites due to the sheer cost, so what are they supposed to do? As I said before it’s lose/lose situation.
It was iterated by YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki that article 13 of the new directive will have a crippling effect on everyday users who upload to their platforms. The article will also block EU members from viewing the “educational content, such as language classes, physics tutorials and other how-to’s.” What a shame that would be for everyone! Maybe it is worth following the #SaveYourInternet movement if this is going to affect users to such an extent.
The EU Copyright Directive is likely to be completed in the early part of next year with the final votes expected in April 2019; however before this time it is still the subject of negotiations, so all is not lost yet!
Don’t forget that MIA members benefit from a free thirty minute consultation and special rates on all intellectual property and general commercial matters