The controversial EU copyright reform is currently putting thousands of people on the streets. The amendment is to be voted on in the EU Parliament at the end of March. At the Science Media Center Germany, Dr. Stephan Dreyer presented his view on the new copyright law and explained possible risks.
Particular criticism is levelled at Article 13, which states that profit-oriented platforms where users can post and upload data (e.g. YouTube) must have licenses for the uploaded material. If a legal dispute arises, it is not the uploading user but the platform operator who is liable for the copyright infringement. According to Dr. Stephan Dreyer
, many experts agree that platform operators cannot evade liability in any other way than to use upload filters which are automated software solutions that recognize copyrighted material while it is being uploaded and can delete it from the platform if necessary.
"Legal scope for decision-making needs people."
These filters could be particularly problematic when dealing with cases that are regulated separately by copyright law, such as parody or satire. "At the latest when weighing conflicting legal positions such as copyright on the one hand and the right to freedom of expression on the other, law and the application of law are lived as social practice that cannot be operationalised in software code," says Dreyer. "Filling the legal decision-making leeway needs people - at least for now."
Critics see the freedom of the Internet restricted by Article 13 and the possibly resulting upload filters, some even speak of censorship. Dreyer warns against using the term carelessly, as it is primarily politically charged. However, it is true that the current draft of Article 13 establishes a liability regime that provides strong incentives for platform providers to decide in case of doubt for the holder of rights and against the user. "This entails the risk of systematic 'overspills' of this provision when it comes to deleting content that is not clearly legal. The more powerful the platforms are on the market and the more automated their processes are, the closer the systems move to the area of central 'infrastructures'. Smaller suppliers in particular may not have the resources to establish their own solutions; one consequence could be that the small ones then buy in the processes of the large suppliers. "In the end, there would be an upload filter that would decide on much of our public communication."
In Dreyer's view, there are also other ways of safeguarding the rights of originators: "An alternative regulatory approach would be simplified licensing, such as that which has become established in private copying remuneration: The legislator expressly permits certain acts of exploitation and, in return, grants the holders of the rights remuneration on the basis of fixed levies."
The complete statements by Dr. Stephan Dreyer and other experts can be read on the Science Media Center website
Picture: Mika Baumeister / unsplash