Tag Archives: safe harbours

EU Copyright Reform: Outside the Safe Harbours, Intermediary Liability Capsizes into Incoherence

In the following piece, Christina Angelopoulos, lecturer in intellectual property law at the University of Cambridge, analyses the aspects of the Commission’s new proposal for the digital single market directive that are relevant to intermediary liability. The post was originally published on the Kluwer Copyright Blog.

As has by now been extensively reported, on 14th September the European Commission released its new copyright reform package. Prominent within this is its proposal for a new Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market.

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The proposal contains an array of controversial offerings, but from the perspective of this intermediary liability blogger, the most interesting provision is the proposed Article 13 on ‘Certain uses of protected content by online services’. This is highly problematic in a number of different ways.

The Supposed Problem

As the Communication on a fair, efficient and competitive European copyright-based economy in the Digital Single Market (which was released in parallel to the proposal) explains, the new Article 13 is intended to address what in Brussels parlance over the past year has come to be termed the ‘value gap’. This refers to the idea that revenues generated from the online use of copyright-protected content are being unfairly distributed between the different players in the value chain of online publishing. A distinction is usually drawn in this regard between ad-funded platforms, such as YouTube, Dailymotion and Vimeo, and subscription-funded platforms, such as Spotify or Netflix. While the latter require the consent of copyright-holders to operate legally, the business model of the former revolves around user-created content (UCC). As a result, they tend to focus not on copyright licensing, but on notice-and-takedown systems, which allow them to tackle any unwanted infringements of copyright snuck onto their websites by their users. [To continue reading this post on the Kluwer Copyright Blog, click here.]