Europe Takes an Important Step Toward Platform Accountability With Directive on Copyright
Yesterday, the EU Parliament voted to approve an amended draft of the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. The 438-226 vote was particularly significant given recent debates over Article 13 of the Directive, which would create new responsibilities for websites that make available to the public large quantities of copyrighted content uploaded by users. By approving Article 13, the EU Parliament sent a strong message that internet platforms should no longer be allowed to exploit copyright owners’ works without permission or compensation.
Article 13 provides that “online content sharing service providers perform an act of communication to the public” and that “[t]hey shall therefore conclude fair and appropriate licensing agreements with rights holders.” The Directive further requires that these licensing agreements “cover the liability for works uploaded by the users of such online content sharing services . . .” Furthermore, in instances where copyright owners do not want their content to appear on a platform, Article 13 provides that “online content sharing service providers and
right holders shall cooperate in good faith in order to ensure that unauthorized protected works or other subject matter are not available on their services.”
“The directive would require internet platforms to work together with copyright owners like never before,” said Maria A. Pallante, President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers. “It would stop websites from hosting and profiting from user uploaded copyrighted content without seeking permission or providing compensation to copyright owners. This is a powerful step forward in promoting platform accountability and respecting the value of copyrighted works.”
The draft Directive takes pains to ensure that Article 13 will not unintentionally restrict users’ ability to upload (and platforms’ ability to host) legitimate non-infringing content. It also instructs internet platforms to develop quick mechanisms for users to seek redress for content that is wrongfully taken down, and requires EU member states to provide access to independent bodies to resolve disputes that may arise.
Following Parliament’s vote, the draft Directive will now be subject to further negotiations within the Trilogue among the EU Commission, the EU Parliament, and the EU Council. While the process is far from over, yesterday’s vote was a welcome acknowledgment that internet platforms should be accountable for the copyrighted content they host on their sites.