The European Commission has been working on a copyright overhaul for some time. In late August, news outlets leaked some details from a draft that was being considered by the Commission. Some of the most controversial elements from the draft included a right for newspapers to demand royalties from news aggregators over the use of short snippets, and a requirement for sites hosting user uploaded content to implement automated systems to identify copyright infringing content. The Commission finally revealed an official copy of its proposal, and both of those elements remain in the proposal.
The proposal calls for sites hosting user-uploaded content to cooperate with rights holders in order to implement measures that prevent copyrighted works from appearing on their platforms without permission. It states, “Those measures, such as the use of effective content recognition technologies, shall be appropriate and proportionate.” The proposal goes on to state that service providers should provide rightsholders with information about the functioning of such measures, and should also have a complaint mechanism available for users in the case of disputes relating to those measures.
TorrentFreak spoke with a Julia Reda, a German member of the European Parliament and Pirate Party member, who described her concerns with this proposal. “There are countless problems with this approach,” she said, “First of all, Google spent upwards of $60 million on the development of ContentID. Asking every startup or community project to make the same kind of investment is ludicrous.” She also notes the inability of automated systems to identify lawful instances of copying. “There are numerous exceptions to copyright such as parody or quotation – different in every EU country – that could justify the re-use of part of a protected work. An algorithm can’t detect that. It will take down lots of legal remixes and mashups, thus stifling freedom of expression,” she stated.
The other element of the copyright proposal that has drawn criticism is granting news publications the right to demand royalties from aggregators if they post a small snippet of text and a link to the original article. This right lasts for 20 years. Although this proposal may be primarily aimed at extracting payment from news aggregators, Reda has argued that there is no exception for individuals. Many social media sites automatically include a snippet from an article when a link is shared, which could make it risky to share stories from European publications if the proposal becomes law.
What do you think of this Copyright proposal? Do you think it’s overreaching or an appropriate response to the 21st century? Share your thoughts in the comments below!