Controversial Article 13 approved by MEPs

The EU’s controversial Copyright proposal has divided academics, content creators and legislators alike in the past months. Yesterday, 12 September 2018, another vote was taken, with a different outcome this time around. The European Parliament has approved the proposed law, with text that included the major stumbling blocks of Article 11 and Article 13.

Article 11 provides for a “new” right favouring press publishers. Not all countries have catered for such a right, and this proposal would usher a harmonised framework whereby press publishers and news organisations can licence the reproduction and making available (i.e. online access) of their publications. On the other hand, Article 13 was proposed in order to address the so-called “value gap”, which essentially is a problem content creators were facing when their works are shared online without remuneration to the creator. The proposal is to have service providers providing platforms where works are shared (for example YouTube) to ensure that they are covered by agreements with rights holders for the use of their work.

Changes have been proposed since the failed vote in July, however critics still argue that the text is problematic. The changes include the removal of filters which automatically delete content that violates copyright.

This is all part of the balancing act necessary for the use and sharing of content while ensuring creator’s rights are not overstepped. The previous proposal pinned part of this balancing act on technology which would filter content being uploaded for copyrighted material. This is where most of the problems lay – would the software be intelligent enough to assess the uploads correctly? And when a legal exception would grant use of copyright material, would the software be able to recognise that? This is especially problematic when different jurisdictions provide for different exceptions in their copyright laws.

All of this must now be filtered and balanced as the proposal makes its way to becoming an official EU legal text.