On March 25, 2019, the European Parliament approved a major set of changes to its copyright laws. These changes could force many companies to be legally responsible for any content that users upload to their websites.
This means that Internet companies will have to take a much more active role in regulating content posted by ordinary users and consumers. Supporters of the new law say the new protections are incredibly important, citing the "lax" laws concerning intellectual property on the Internet. However, critics of the new rules say it will unnecessarily hamper freedom of expression online and could lead to censorship.
The New Rules
In a 348-274 vote, the European Parliament enacted the new rules which would force aggregators such as Google News to pay original publishers for specific types of links to their articles. This will also affect services that allow ordinary users to upload their own content, like Facebook and YouTube. These companies could be civilly liable for videos that infringe upon another party's copyright interests.
This new set of rules differs significantly from the law about the same issue in the United States. Tech companies are provided a broad immunity from copyright violations when copyrighted information shows up on their platforms, so long as they meet certain requirements, including that the company itself did not knowingly violate the copyright and takes steps to remove content that violates copyright in a timely manner and in good faith, once they have been notified.
Because we live in a global world, new laws enacted by the European Parliament can have a significant effect on American companies. Companies like Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and more operate throughout the world, including Europe, with few exceptions.
American companies will now have to spend a great deal more time and money to comply with the European directive if they wish to continue operating in those countries under the jurisdiction of the European Parliament.
A major element of the law involves Article 13, which imposes legal responsibility on Internet companies for the content that is uploaded on to their platforms. According to many of these companies that could be affected, not only will this significantly increase costs, the software needed to catch infringing material will very likely catch legal content alongside it.
Companies are also worried about the ability to regulate this issue and avoid costly litigation and financial sanctions.
Effect on American Artists
The new law is full of unexpected consequences, including for American artists. Artists who use other's expression for satire, political commentary, or other "fair use" purposes under American copyright law could see their works filtered out under these new policies.
Internet companies could also see themselves facing sanctions for posting infringing content and lawsuits for removing content that does not violate copyright law.
Consult an Experienced California Entertainment Attorney
Copyright violations under the new rules in Europe could have a significant effect on American companies and artists. If your company or your work has been affected, there is legal recourse to protect your rights.
An experienced California entertainment attorney at Lowe & Associates can enforce your rights in your work. Contact us today for a consultation.