EU Copyright Law

The European Parliament has given its approval for the controversial EU copyright law. The law had a strong backing from the traditional media like newspapers and television industry. The traditional media industries were losing the game against the online platforms like Google, Twitter and Facebook. The law is expected to aid the traditional media to gain some revenue to augment their income.

Controversial Provisions of the Law:

The two articles of the copyright law, Article 11 and Article 13 have become the bone of contention. The provisions under these articles are

  • Article 11: The article is dubbed as “link tax”. It mandates the Internet giants like Facebook and Google to pay news organisations to use their headlines on their platforms.
  • Article 13: The article is dubbed as “upload filter”. It mandates the online platforms like Facebook and YouTube to restrict users from sharing unlicensed copyrighted material. The article also makes the online platforms liable to copyright violations.
Arguments of those who favor these controversial provisions:

Those supporting these controversial provisions put forward the following arguments

  • The provisions empower the journalists, musicians and other content creators. This would aid the creative industry to boom.
  • Internet has changed the outlook of the media and entertainment industry. The content creators have become submissive to platforms like YouTube, Facebook or Google. The new provisions give more power to the content creators, rather than the platforms that aggregate their work.
  • People and companies in the creative industries are being starved of revenues. Significant amount of revenue is lost due to the sharing of their intellectual property on digital platforms.
  • Digital platforms are gaining at the cost of the creators. Subordination of content creators to online platforms is a threat to the free flow of information online and digital creativity. The provisions of the law make a beginning on addressing these anomalies.
Arguments of those who oppose these controversial provisions:

Those supporting these controversial provisions put forward the following arguments

  • The provisions will clamp down on the open internet. This would lead to digital censorship.
  • The provisions are required to be implemented through automatic filtering technology. The automatic filtering technology would suppress anything that looks like it might be infringing copyright without giving consideration to the issue whether the user has a right or permission to use the content.
  • Only a handful of technological companies have the technical and financial capacity to operate the required filtering systems. As a result the small players may be eliminated from the market.
  • The provisions would transform the online platforms from champions of copyright to chillers of the issue as the law imposes significant amount of burden on them.

Future Course of the Law:

The law is approved by the European parliament. It now goes to “trilogue dialogue” where the talks would be held between European Parliament, European Commission and European council. Then the baton goes to EU nations to decide on how they will implement the new rules.