The European Parliament has voted in the EU Copyright Directive for the Digital Single Market, 348-274. The vote followed high drama and widespread public mobilisation against the proposal, specifically on its impact on the rules for online platforms and user-generated content on the internet.
The text of the directive has seen many iterations, but most of the objections to the directive focus on its rules regarding the responsibilities of online platforms which host user generated content, as well as the regulation of hyperlinks from news websites.
Article 17 (which was earlier Article 13) in the final text (as of March 20, 2019), requires online content hosting platforms to only host licensed/authorized content, by specifying that all such hosting services fall within the ambit of ‘communication to the public’ – a right which must be authorised by a copyright holder. Further, the proposal removes intermediary safe harbour rules under the EU e-commerce directive.
The proposal will now go for a formal vote to the EU Council, subsequent to which it must be incorporated within national legislation within 2 years. The manner in which states choose to adopt the obligations of the regulation would be an important development to follow.
Importantly, this places significant obligations on technology platforms on the internet and inevitably will affect the ‘borderless’ nature of the internet – the ramifications will extend to online communication outside of the EU as well. We have been following the directive and have explained the issues and controversies surrounding it, here, and here.