Article 13 is everywhere and it’s all that’s being talked about on the internet at the moment, so I thought I’d do a brief overview of what it means and why I don’t think it will “break” the internet in the way that everyone thinks it will.
By way of background, I am legally qualified and although I now work in Marketing, I work in a law firm, so it’s my job to know all about the latest laws and how they might affect the general public in their everyday lives. However, do not take this as legal advice in any way shape or form. This is an outline of the law and my take on how it will be enforced in the UK.
So what is Article 13?
Article 13 is just one section of the European Union Copyright Directive which changes the law on internet copyright for EU countries (Member States). The Directive isn’t in affect yet (at time of writing), as all members of the EU have to approve it before it becomes enforceable.
If it is approved, then the Member States have to adapt it into their own domestic laws within two years. It is up to the Member states how they do so, using the EU guidance.
The Copyright Directive deals with copyright protected content on “online content sharing services.” The Article says that copyright holders of original materials (this could include materials like music and movies) are entitled to be paid when their material is used by someone else. This is likely to only affect services that use video or sound, like YouTube, or Soundcloud.
The new law is designed to make sure that content creators are compensated when their original work is used by someone else.
Who is responsible for this
The Article holds the companies who show that content, (e.g. YouTube) to be responsible for the royalties owed to the copyright owners, not the individual who posts the content. Surely this is good for individuals uploading the content, as it means they can’t be personally sued.
The company has to make their “best efforts” to ensure the copyright material is not used/taken down, or they have to pay. The term “best efforts” when used in the law is very broad, and widely open to interpretation, so the chances are, as long as the company has a clear system in place and which has been documented, they will get away with it.
Who does it apply to
The Directive, and thereafter the domestic law, applies to all companies whose services have been available in the EU for more than three years, or who make a yearly profit of more than €10m (which is equivalent to £8.8m or $11.2m). This is likely to exclude smaller businesses and start ups.
When can you use copyright material
The Article says you can use copyrighted material when you have a licence to do so and pay the copyright holder, or when it’s for the purpose of criticism, review, parody and pastiche. The latter also includes memes – you can still post memes without getting in trouble. Phew, you can still tweet memes as much as you like.
How it will affect you
In short, it probably won’t. The UK can choose to adapt it into their laws as they see fit and the guidance in the Directive is very broad (I wouldn’t recommend reading it, it’s very dull, I read it so you don’t have to!) and gives a wide scope for interpretation by the Member States.
How it will affect tech companies
The UK can define it’s own best practices, such as what will be appropriate and proportionate content recognition technologies, taking into account things like nature of the services, the availability of the technologies and their effectiveness.
So this means that the UK can decide, to some extent, how it will work in our country. They will more than likely be consulting large tech companies such as Google and YouTube in their processes of making the law, and won’t want to jeopardise these companies to such a big extent that it will stop them being usable so will keep this in mind when they make the law.
In terms of platforms that might be affetced, YouTube already has a Content ID system in place, which removes copyrighted materials from being used in their videos, so YouTube will likely carry on as normal. Twitter, if necessary, will be able to afford to adapt a content filter system, so shouldn’t be affected either.
Smaller businesses that cannot afford to implement filter systems, are unlikely to be affected, as they are likely to have only been running a couple of years, and any company that has been in the EU for over three years, will probably be able to afford it.
Social media will not disappear as a result of this Directive.
So what about Brexit?
Well if we leave the EU before this Directive gets approved by the Members States, we probably won’t have to implement it. If we leave the EU with a deal, and the Directive is approved, it would apply to the UK during the time we take to transition out, and we would need to implement. If we leave the EU with no deal, we probably won’t have to. However, the English politicians involved in the making of the Directive are all very supportive of it, so the chances are the UK will make some kind of similar law on this anyway. Leaving the EU will not give us a get out of jail free card for this new law.
Anything that means struggling creatives can be paid for their work, and not have their original material used without their permission or knowledge, is a good thing right?
The new law makes the companies with deep pockets accountable, and not the little individuals, which is another good thing right?
There might be a slight period of uncertainty, where YouTube or Twitter, for exmaple, are putting in place their new filters, but it will be a teething period which will quickly pass. Social media will not die as a result of this, of that I’m sure.
My personal opinion is that this new law is also not a further reason to promote leaving the EU as a good thing, as the law will more than likely be passed in the UK one way or another regardless. It’s no reason to panic and in my opinion, everyone is getting upset about nothing.
Phew that was a long one, I hope you find this helpful and informative and if you had any questions about it, please don’t hesitate to ask me!