EU Parliament Approves new Copyright Law: Article 13

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In a vote today, European Parliament approves Article 13 previously known as the Directive on Copyright in a Single Digital Market.

What drove the Copyright Directive?

The European Union has had growing concerns over the power of large corporations, and different monopolistic practices in the region. The Copyright Directive was drafted with the intention to protect the individuals who create content rather than different corporations or derivative works. When the original Q and A  was taking place over the bill the general themes the European Parliament were trying to get across to the public were that: there are no new laws or rules just better enforcement, creators will receive a better share of revenue instead of aggregators and online platforms, and that rights of users will still be respected. The topic of censorship arose, and the European Parliament insisted that there will be no fundamental change to censoring. The major change they highlighted was remuneration which will now favour content creators with the ability to file for copyright infringement claims more quickly.

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Today's Vote for Article 13

In the vote today single issues were targeted by the parliament,  such as using a “snippet” in Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) which can provide a short description of the article without requiring remuneration as long as it meets the criteria of being “very short”. Hyperlinks and quotes are also unaffected as long as the quotes remain “short”. Finally, the European Parliament ensures that “The ‘meme’, the ‘gif’, and the ‘snippet’ are now protected more than ever before.”

A major concern with article 13 is not only that it may restrict freedom of some creators and content companies, but the implementation of the directive will be cumbersome to employ. For instance, Google has some of the most sophisticated content upload filters on the internet but still has a problem with copyright infringement. Currently, a DMCA notice is given then it would be up to the hosting company to take down any infringements within a reasonable time frame, with the onus being on the owner of the content to know it is being used unlawfully. The onus is now on the hosting site and remuneration is required if there was revenue passed through from the content. The requirements are less for smaller companies, and open source platforms are mostly excluded from the directive to maintain innovation.

The European Parliament did not discuss how companies are likely to respond to the vote, for instance, YouTube can demonetise different channels on their website with relative ease but is currently done so in what appears to be a very pointed way right now (sensationalised news, and misinformation). European Parliament did not disclose how they would handle situations when there is no revenue being generated.

Next Steps

This issue is incredibly complex and tries to balance the freedom of internet users, the rights of content creators and the responsibility of larger corporations. In the bigger picture, it also coincides with the EU working to implement the GAFA tax to hold large digital corporations more accountable to the societies they operate in. In the coming weeks, the Council of the European Union must also vote in the law before it can be adopted.


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