17 October 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon

Article 13 of DSM proposals should be deleted, says the EFF

Digital advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is among 56 civil society organisations that have penned a letter to European lawmakers demanding that Article 13 of the EU’s new copyright reforms is deleted.

The EFF, alongside organisations such as the Open Rights Group, Communia and Reporters without Borders, demanded that the article be removed from the new EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market.

Article 13 puts the burden of responsibility on internet platforms, such as YouTube, to filter content that their users upload and take down user content at the behest of rights owners.

The EFF suggested this would “force companies to actively monitor their users’ content, which contradicts the ‘no general obligation to monitor’ rules in the Electronic Commerce Directive”.

It said: “Article 13 appears to provoke such legal uncertainty that online services will have no other option than to monitor, filter and block EU citizens’ communications if they are to have any chance of staying in business.”

The EFF explained that a loss in the battle against the use of upload filters for copyright could see a “similar mandate on platforms to filter other types of content, beginning with ill defined ‘hate speech’ and terrorist content, and ending who knows where”.

In a blog post, the EFF also highlighted Article 11 of the directive, also known as the press publishers right or “link tax”, which would allow press publishers to charge licensing fees for links to and snippets from their news stories in search services such as Google News.

Last week, the European Parliament released a new study that recommended that the press publishers’ right be abandoned as a result of “real concerns” and “uncertain effects” surrounding the right.

The right was previously trialled in Spain and Germany and groups such as the Wikimedia Foundation and Application Developers Alliance said the experiments produced “no positive outcomes but have harmed consumers, innovation and the internet at large”.

Several Spanish press publishers or editors interviewed in the study also decried the right. One publisher said that the right “might not be necessary”, while another said that “press publishers do not need additional intellectual property rights”.

The European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee will vote on the opinions on 19 October, though it will not be the final vote on the topic.

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