Article 13: Copyright re-invented

The European Union has not updated the copyright laws since 2001. Now they are aiming to change that and bring the copyright laws in line with the “digital era”. Most of these changes are uncontroversial, however, Article 13 will have a huge impact on the way that content is shared on the internet. What it basically means is that, hosting platforms will be responsible to make sure that the content that is uploaded is going to be in line with the copyright laws.

How Article 13 shifts the balance of power for creators and publishers

The goal of article 13 is to fix the problem of value distribution amongst a certain set of industries, especially the music industry. The problems with the Article 13 is with the services towards which it is addressed, while also suffering from having a broad yet vague goal. Problem is that it will apply to all types of copyrighted works. On top of that, there is no reason for an article that is intended to strengthen the bargaining power of the music industry to impose costly responsibilities on platforms that have nothing to do with sharing music. Additionally, since the article seems so vague, there are bound to be misunderstandings and misinterpretations which will lead to the need of taking legal action for the matter to be settled.

Buckle up for the consequences of Article 13

So how are hosting platforms going to tackle this new challenge? Basically, human reviewing is going to be out of the question. The reason for this is that consistently monitoring huge amounts of data that is being uploaded in a timely manner is virtually impossible, unless you have a small army at your disposal. What this means, is that platform will have to put automated filters in place in the forms of BOTs or AI. Ok, so where is the problem?

Big corporations win, small companies lose

One of the problems is that a system like this will be extremely expensive to adopt. What this means is that smaller platforms will not be able to adopt such a system and might be forced to opt out of the game altogether. Basically, this will stifle the emergence of innovation in the EU, brought by new small competitors on the market. On top of that, already established giants in the tech industry will be able to afford such a system, meaning that they will be able to hold even more power.

Another problem with this approach, is that an AI or BOT is not going to be able to tell the difference between truly copyrighted content and content that is meant for humour.

Is this goodbye to the meme culture?

What this means is that if a funny picture is based on a scene from a movie, the filtering system will regard this as copyrighted content and remove it from the internet.

Although the EU has made it clear that the exceptions to the rule will be content that is meant to be a “quotation, criticism, review, caricature, parody or pastiche”, the problem with how these contents will be told apart from real copyright infringements by filtering systems still remains the same.

“There is a module for that”

With Drupal being a free open-source CMS there is a chance for the Drupal community to be able to shine and bring an advantage to the game. By developing a free filtering module, Drupal based websites will have a clear advantage over the competition. This will rebalance the power between the tech giants and small companies, as instead of having to pay for the software developed by Google or Facebook for example, the companies will have it for free provided by Drupal. With this, small companies will have an extra incentive to adopt or migrate to Drupal. In this case, Drupal is going to be their knight in shining armor.

Who is exempt from Article 13

In an attempt to not completely destroy the start-up ecosystem, the EU has put a couple of “mitigation measures” in place that platforms have to adopt in order to not be liable for the unauthorised content that the users are uploading.

These “mitigation measures” are as follows:

  1. All platforms must make “best efforts” to license copyrighted works uploaded by their users. A lot of this will basically fall upon how “best efforts” will be interpreted. This rather vague term is troublesome, since having to pay so many licenses will basically be impossible for smaller players in the field.

  2. In addition to this, all platforms will have to make “best efforts to take down works upon notice from rightsholders”. There is nothing new here since this was already an obligation that platform already had under the E-Commerce Directive.

  3. Additionally, all the platforms with 5 million monthly users will have to make sure that the removed copyrighted content will remain removed. What this means is that these platforms will have to bring filters to the game, in order to prevent the re-upload of the content.

  4. Lastly, all platforms that are older than 3 years and have more than 10 million yearly revenue will have to make “best efforts to ensure the unavailability of specific works for which the rightsholders have provided the service providers with the relevant and necessary information.''

 

In light of these exceptions to the rule, only a small amount of platforms and companies will not be held accountable, for a short period of time,  for the unauthorised content that is uploaded to their website.

Articles' 13 little brother, Article 11

Besides Article 13, another article was approved, Article 11. This one is a little easier to digest. Article 11 aims to target news aggregators like Google or Apple, who use AI-driven algorithms to find the most important news of the day.  Basically it helps news outlets to generate more money for the content they create, by imposing a tax on the snippet of information that is shared on the search engines or on social media. Now, news outlets will be able to charge Facebook a tax for sharing the snippet of information with the audience. This may lead to a decrease in the amount of news you see shared on social media, since now, it is going to be more expensive to do so. This might affect smaller news publishers to grow a bigger audience, because it is going to be harder to gain exposure. However, only time will tell the outcome of this directive.

How will these changes affect you as a site owner?

Basically, website owners will have to think carefully about the content that is present on their website. This will mean that when you are hosting a website, you have to make sure that you already have a license for the content that you share on there. Also, when embedding a video or sharing a snippet of information from a blog on your website, you are going to have to be sure that you have the copyrights in place, while also having to mind the tax for sharing the blog information. If this is not the case, then you either have to take down the unapproved content or you might be liable to face legal action. Either way, the consequences for breaching the copyright law are yet to be defined.

How will you be affected as a regular user?

In the case that you are a designer, musician, photographer, blogger or any other profession that creates content which can be published online, you will be entitled to copyright your creations. After that, you will be able to track down however is sharing your content without your permission and either ask for some kind of compensation or ask for your content to be removed from their website. If the other party does not comply, then you will be eligible to take legal action. This is how it has always been. However, you might have trouble when trying to upload content on the internet since the filters might regard your content as copyright, even though it is not intended to be so, effectively affecting the content that can be posted and also consumed by the people from Europe.

There is still time to adapt

Keep in mind that the Article 13 and Article 11 are basically European directives. Meaning that every member state will have 2 years, after the decision was taken, at their disposal to be able to interpret and adopt the laws as they see fit. What this means is that website owners will have plenty of time to make adjustments to their websites in order to adapt to the new directive.

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Apr 2, 2019 By Felix