The largest and potentially most contentious overhaul of copyright legislation has been passed by the European Parliament. When this legislation comes into action, it will be the largest change to internet regulations since the implementation of GDPR or the General Data Protection Regulation.
The copyright changes that have been passed are best known for the most controversial clauses in them. These are articles 11 and 13 which have created a major battle between the corporate lobbyists, freedom of expression groups and online activities.
What Does The Change Mean For The Internet?
Will You Be Able To Upload Content?
There has been a lot of emphases that the legislation will still allow people to upload content to the internet. However, technology firms such as Google have sent out warnings that they may have to automatically remove more content once this directive has been implemented.
This has to do with copyright and platforms such as Facebook and YouTube already remove videos and music that are under copyright. YouTube will scan any uploaded content and see if it matches a database of files that it has of copyrighted content. The database allows the original creator to block, track or monetise the content. Under the new legislation, the tech companies will be more liable for any copyright infringements on their platforms.
Why Is Big Tech Against This Legislation?
The companies that are affected by this have argued that the reform is unrealistic and that there is already a system in place that pays content creators fairly. YouTube is one of the most vocal and has warned that EU-based users could be cut off from videos entirely with this.
Are There Others Who Are Against The Legislation?
Yes, it is not only the big tech companies that are against this. A lot of campaigners have stated that the directive could hurt freedom of speech online as the only way to guarantee compliance is to block content that references copyrighted content. This will include any content that remixes, criticises or quotes content that is under copyright.
There are some that warn that the legislation could actually help big tech as well. This is due to the fact that they are the only companies that will have the resources to comply with these regulations. However, there are businesses which offer data protection officer services in the UK, and these should be seriously considered if you’re looking to ensure that you’re compliant.
What Does It Mean For Online News?
Article 13 makes it harder for companies to release user-generated content, but article 11 related particularly to the sharing of news articles. Publishers have argued that they are funding high-quality journalism and that the firms that monetise on sharing their work news articles should pay their share. This is why article 11 introduced a new requirement for information service sector providers where they need to secure the right to share news articles. Websites like Google News will be able to show snippets of the news articles while non-commercial encyclopaedias like Wikipedia will be exempt from the rules.
What About Memes?
One of the key arguments regarding this legislation is the fact that it could act as a meme ban. This is due to the strong rules against the uploading of copyright material without permission and that memes depend on TV and movie scenes. There are some changes made to the regulations that protect the use of such content.
However, this will be for the purpose of criticism, quotation, review, parody, caricature and pastiche. The problem is that tech companies state that this change would be impossible to uphold. The automatic filter that would be needed to comply would not be able to determine if the content is parody or infringement.
When Does It Come Into Force
EU member states will have a 2-year window to implement the new rules from the date it passes the European Council. For people in the UK, this means that the country could decide whether to implement the rules or not.