An update - EU Copyright Law

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Jess Staines
Digital Communications Executive
Our fabulous Digital Communications Executive Jess is full of hidden talents and skills. From revitalising our marketing materials to analysing our client’s websites, she certainly has hit the ground running.

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An update - EU Copyright Law

Towards the end of 2018, there were announcements of new proposed laws that, if passed, would massively impact the way we all use the internet. In January, EU negotiators had three consecutive days of closed-door talks and have provided further clarity and direction of the new rules.

Article 11

Prior to the recent negotiations, Google warned that its business model in Europe would be threatened by the licensing rules and will restrict users’ ability to know what they are clicking on. Dubbed the “link tax”, the initial draft required websites to pay content publishers such as newspapers to use ‘snippets’ of their work. The European Parliament has stated that “the deal aims at enhancing rights holders’ chances, notably musicians, performers and script authors, as well as news publishers, to negotiate better remuneration deals for the use of their works featured on internet platforms”.

Article 13

Perhaps the most controversial part of the proposal was Article 13, which set out to see content sharing platforms be held responsible for removing user-generated copyrighted content. There has been a major backlash to this from YouTube, who warned that millions of videos would no longer be available in Europe. MEP Julia Reda warned that “upload filters do not work, as algorithms simply cannot tell the difference between copyright infringements and legal parody. Requiring platforms to use upload filters would not just lead to more frequent blocking of legal uploads, it would also make life difficult for smaller platforms that cannot afford filtering software”. However, those in favour of the proposed law say that the law sent “a clear signal that large platforms dominating the online content market at the expense of creators must stop freeriding and comply with copyright rules”.

Where Are We Now?

The result of these negotiations has provided more detail and clarity around how the laws will affect individual users and businesses of various sizes. In the case of Article 11, it was clarified that the new rules do not target individual internet users, and therefore they will be able to “continue to share content on social media and link to websites and newspapers just as they do today”.

In terms of Article 13, the European Commission explained that “new small platforms” will be subject to less rigorous requirements. These are defined as those who are considered to be online service providers operating for less than three years in the EU, have a turnover of less than €10 million, and have less than 5 million monthly users. As well as this, memes, GIFs and snippets have been protected if they are used for non-commercial purposes. In terms of upload filtering, the law has been worded carefully not to directly call for this technology to be used, but MEP’s also acknowledge that alternatives are hard to think of. It will be down to the companies in the group most affected to figure out how to monitor copyrighted material. Ultimately, their choices will impact the direction of this law.

The new rules have been provisionally agreed but still have to be formally adopted by both the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. Once they have been approved and published, EU member states will have two years to implement the new legislation into national law.

Andrus Ansip, vice president of the European Commission adds: "To finally have modern copyright rules for the whole of EU is a major achievement that was long overdue. The negotiations were difficult, but what counts in the end is that we have a fair and balanced result that is fit for a digital Europe: the freedoms and rights enjoyed by internet users today will be enhanced, our creators will be better remunerated for their work, and the internet economy will have clearer rules for operating and thriving."

Marketers will have to wait and see if their business falls into the category that will be greatly affected, or whether their day-to-day activity will be minimally impacted. Monitoring content and sources will play a bigger part in the marketing role, as recognised in article 11. There is no doubt that the laws have been designed for big corporations, but smaller business will undoubtedly be affected.

If you would like to know more about this law or are interested in how your content fits into these rules, get in touch at [email protected]

Or come along to one of our forthcoming breakfast seminars, in conjunction with Gardner Leader, where we will be exploring these legal changes in more detail