A New Copyright Directive for the EU: What Does the New Law Mean for the Internet?

The European Parliament has voted for a new Copyright Directive, which will update new copyright laws for the Internet age. There are two articles that are deemed controversial to tech companies and the general public, and those articles are 11 & 13.

The new law would require tech companies to work with rights holders on proactively stopping copyrighted content from being uploaded to their platforms, as well as giving publishers rights to their works. The only way to do so would be to do so would be to scan all data being uploaded to these sites. There is massive pushback from tech companies like Facebook & YouTube due to the fact that it would require them to constantly monitor and filter content being uploaded to their sites. Nonetheless, this law would change the way the internet works in the EU if it gets the green light in January.

Article 11 will allow press publications copyright over their stories. Which in turn would allow them to tax sites, like Google news, for aggregating their stories and linking to them. The article states that Commercial platforms have to pay a fee to share aggregated news. So it protects individuals, but it leaves people wondering what exactly a commercial platform is? The article doesn’t define what that is, so would a Facebook page with a sizeable following be subject to paying the same fees as Google if they shared an article?

I found this to be interesting because the EU has tried going after Google over this before, and it ultimately failed because Google just shut down Google news and when local aggregators couldn’t afford the fees, it collapsed. While article 11 is very important, article 13 is the most troubling, and has been met with the most backlash.

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Before talking about Article 13, it’s important to know that these laws are not being made without any justification. Tech companies like YouTube and Facebook do make money off the intellectual property of creators, and it has been a problem because the internet is such an unregulated place. I think it’s important to keep this in mind. Article 13 would require tech companies to ensure that copyright material is not uploaded to their sites. In the case of YouTube, rights holders have to file a copyright claim with YouTube if they would like a video taken down that has their music or IP on it. Article 13 no longer requires the rights holder to be responsible for doing such, they are putting the entire responsibility on Youtube.

Lawmakers say that this will force YouTube to sit down and renegotiate licenses with artists, since they are making lots of money off their content, and it will force them to be proactive with combating copyrighted material from being uploaded to their site.

Another important thing to note is that this doesn’t just apply to YouTube, it applies for every company. So this has Facebook and YouTube both worried about what they will do next. Their claim is that they would have to create an auto filtration system, in order to stop protected content from being uploaded. Not only would that take years to make, but it would cost a fortune to keep running, because a system like that would require constant maintenance as well.

The general response to these laws has been very critical. Which I think people have a right to be worried. The biggest question people are asking is, what about fair use? If an auto filtration system were to be put into place, a machine wouldn’t be able to decipher if something were to fall under fair use or not. An auto filtration system could effectively change the internet in the EU as we know it. With all that being said, we will not have a definitive answer until January, when the final vote is. Experts do believe though, that it will push through into law.

-Jared Frost

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