Interpretation of new EU copyright law poses risk for online platforms

Platforms and aggregator sites face an uncertain risk landscape online following the passing into law of the new EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, in which a section known as Article 13 holds tech firms responsible for material posted without copyright permission. The tech firm must either make a “best effort” to get permission from the rights holders or quickly remove it (although sharing memes and GIFS will still be allowed under the new laws).

Specialist insurer, CFC Underwriting today issued a warning to companies with sites hosting large amounts of user-generated content that they may become liable for the copyrighted materials they are allowing users to share.

Technology team leader at CFC, Michael Brunero says such platforms will effectively need to scan every upload for copyrighted material, and will be responsible for stopping the upload if it infringes on copyright.

“While the intention is to force tech companies to do more to prevent the spreading of copyrighted material on their platforms, the new law isn’t without controversy with the likes of YouTube claiming that it could change the web as we know it,” he explained.

The underwriter has flagged another section of the new law, Article 11, which it says is essentially a ‘link tax’. Any site or webpage using snippets of articles, such as aggregator sites like YouTube, must pay a license to the content publisher which would offer an additional income to European publishers.

“How the legislation is to be interpreted by individual nations will be up to them and only time will tell, but it definitely creates a new minefield of problems for social media websites and sharing platforms,” Brunero concluded.

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