European Parliament Still Adopts Amendments to EU Copyright Law

    On March 26, the European Parliament adopted amendments to EU legislation, according to which Google and other technology companies will be obligated to remove any content the distribution of which in any way violates the copyright of a company or individual. True, these rules will not affect those organizations that were founded less than three years ago and earn less than 10 million annual profit, plus whose audience does not exceed 5 million users per month.

    Moreover, the amendments will enter into force on one condition - all countries that are members of the European Union must approve them. Nevertheless, if these amendments are nevertheless adopted, they can radically change the situation in the market of online media, search engines and other resources that use someone else’s content.

    The amendments themselves were decided to be adopted for the reason that copyright issues in the EU are currently regulated by laws adopted in 2001 - then the Internet, as we know it, has just begun to take shape. Also then there were no news aggregators like Google News. European officials considered all this sufficient to begin the modernization of legislation related to copyright protection.

    Most of the problems are caused by the intention of lawmakers to introduce a norm according to which news aggregators should pay for showing news snippets with information broadcast from various sources. The modification of the law applies not only to Google News, but also to Facebook, as well as other platforms. The corresponding wording is spelled out in article 11 of the law.

    Another issue is article 17. According to it, the owner of the Internet platform is responsible for copyright infringement for posted illegal content from the moment it is downloaded. To combat unlicensed content, it is proposed to introduce specialized filters (Upload Filter).

    The beneficiaries in the amendment are the largest publishing houses. By the way, they are lobbying for changes to copyright laws, talking about how platforms like Google News make money using the labor of others and the intellectual property of publishers. Publishers do not receive any money from Google or other Internet companies. Accordingly, publishing houses plan to make online aggregators or social networks pay with the help of legislation.

    True, far from all copyright holders agree with this position. So, small companies believe that Internet corporations and their services like the ones mentioned above help to get an audience that is much larger than that that small online media could get without news aggregators.

    What is Upload Filter

    So we decided to call specialized software, which, when downloading content to users, checks the legality of using such content. In fact, films check for possible copyright infringement. If there is a violation, filters are designed to eliminate it. Thus, filters can prevent the situation with downloading unlicensed content, as well as with its appearance on large online platforms.

    True, the filter implementation program has many opponents. They indicate that the filter is not a person, the program cannot recognize ordinary quotes, memes and parodies, considering all this a violation of copyright. In addition, only large companies can install filters; small organizations cannot afford this.

    Opponents of copyright amendments also believe that filters are the last step of the EU government in preparing the implementation of censorship. Representatives of the European Court of Justice spoke about this danger back in 2012.

    What else could be the consequences

    The problem is that relatively small online media can lose a significant share of users if amendments are accepted. For example, in Germany Google tried to make pay for the news a few years ago. However, after the service left the country, its authors sharply changed their minds, heeding the complaints of the German media, which lost a very significant audience.

    The amendments indicate that online resources that use someone’s content (music, lyrics, etc.) should provide a “fair price” for the content provider. But it is not indicated what the “fair price” is and how this bill will be implemented.

    Whatever the final decision on copyright modernization in the European Union, there is still no. As mentioned above, the amendments must be approved by all countries that are members of the EU. If everything goes smoothly and all states agree, it will take about two years to introduce new rules.

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