The European Parliament has given its backing to new copyright rules, including the controversial Article 13, (opposed by many big tech companies) which could now change the way that Europe’s creative and digital industries work.
European Parliament Vote
The new copyright rules are encapsulated in the EU Copyright Directive which, having gone through many revisions was finally backed by 348 MEPs, with 278 voting against it. It will now be up to EU member states (likely to soon exclude the UK) to approve the EP’s decision and if so, member states will still have two years to implement it.
Article 11 and Article 13
Most of the opposition and argument around the EU Copyright Directive relate to article 11 and 13.
Article 11 states that search engines and news aggregate platforms should pay to use links from news websites.
Article 13 applies to services that have been available in the EU for more than three years or have an annual turnover of more than £8.8m. Article 13 shifts the burden of responsibility so that big tech companies rather than users will have to bear the responsibility for ANY content that is posted on their platforms that doesn’t have a copyright licence e.g. television programmes, movies, and music, and may even cover YouTube, Dailymotion, Soundcloud and more. So far, the main worry has been about music but this new change in the law has widened the scope. The new directive says that tech companies will need to make “best efforts” to get permission from the copyright holder, make sure that material specified by rights holders is not made available, and act quickly to remove any infringing material.
The main objections that have been voiced about the Directive, and particularly these two sections are that:
EU lawmakers say that the Directive was intended to protect the livelihoods of those artists, musicians and others whose work is copyrighted so they can get paid because that work has been shared widely in the past without its creators being properly paid.
Exemptions to the directive include:
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
For ordinary web users, this new change in European laws means that they can upload videos and music to platforms like YouTube without being held liable for copyright. For journalist and creatives, this law change also looks on the surface to be good news because it means that they may be properly remunerated by big companies, thereby redressing the power balance.
For businesses that have an online platform and/or need to share links and content, this law change could increase costs, increase risks (vulnerability to fines etc), and could make things a lot more complicated e.g. with the need to add filters and checks to any content and link sharing.