The Digital Copyright Directive – Article 13

The European Parliament recently approved the controversial Digital Copyright Directive. Formal adoption by the European Council is expected to be a formality and to take place today, April 15th.

The Directive has been a long time coming and the subject of fierce debate during the legislative process.  The key issue is the infamous “Article 13” which imposes obligations on internet service providers that store large amounts of content uploaded by users – such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. These provisions (although now numbered differently) have survived in the final wording and will require the likes of those companies to take more responsibility for copyrighted material being shared illegally on their platforms.

The Directive defines exactly which platforms will need upload filters to prevent such illegal uploading and which ones will not however it, perhaps unintentionally, catches a huge number of websites – from music forums to niche social networks – that will need to install upload filters.

One of the most controversial aspects is that ‘memes’, which are often based on copyrighted images, will likely fall foul of these laws.

As ever the devil is in the detail and the provisions of the Directive are complex and, in certain respects, give each member state wide scope for how they are implemented. It will be interesting to see how the provisions are actually implemented in the various member states and the major stakeholders will undoubtedly be keen to be involved in consultations during that process.

Obviously for us here in the UK, the key question is whether the Directive will ever be implemented into our law given Brexit, but even if not forced to, it is quite possible that the UK might choose to implement it which brings with it all of the considerations above.

Lee Emptage is an experienced Solicitor in our Corporate & Commercial Department. You can contact him directly via [email protected] or over the phone on 01268 211999.

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