European Parliament Adopts Sweeping, Controversial Online Copyright Rules

March 26, 2019

By David Posteraro

If you have ever attempted to view online content and received a message that the content is unavailable in your country, you may find this occurring more often; so too, content that you may have viewed yesterday, may not be available tomorrow.

On Tuesday, March 26th, European lawmakers approved “Article 13,” the sweeping and controversial overhaul of EU copyright rules. The European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, to use the full name, requires online content providers like Google, YouTube, Facebook and, yes, even Amazon and Twitter, to filter or remove copyrighted material from their websites to ensure that such material is not being shared illegally on their platforms or provided without compensation to the original authors.

The Directive deals a blow to those companies that had argued that the changes would be costly to implement, require expensive content filters, prevent linking to publications, and limit free expression. Recording companies, artists, and media companies, on the other hand, whose businesses have been disrupted by the internet, have won a victory after long complaining that online platforms profited from their content without compensating them adequately.

For sites like Google News, which collects and presents stories from news sites, the new law would require Google to obtain licenses from the original publishers. After Spain passed a similar law, Google shut down Google News in the country. And, in addition to Article 13, the Directive introduces the concept of “ancillary copyright for press publishers” across the EU. The effect of this Article 11 will enable press publishers to be able to demand licensing fees when services such as Google News reproduce snippets of text from their articles.

Tuesday’s vote paves the way for the bill to become law once it has been endorsed by the European Council, which represents the bloc’s member states. The European Council has said it will approve the measure, but implementation will take two years.

Questions? Feel free to reach out to David at drp@kjk.com or 216.736.7218, or contact any of our Intellectual Property professionals.


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