The European Parliament has recently approved what’s going to be the largest and most aggressive change of copyright legislation in two decades now. When this directive becomes active, it will be the biggest modification to internet regulation since General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Most people have acknowledged the change of the Copyright Law only because of the two most controversial articles, 11 and 13. These two clauses have ignited true wars between corporate lobbyists, online marketers and freedom of speech organisations.
How will these changes shape the internet?
Will I still be allowed to publish my own content online?
According to the new legislation, individual users will still be allowed to upload their content. However, technology firms such as Google, Bing and Facebook will probably have to set automatic filters to remove a lot more content.
YouTube and Facebook already delete videos and musical tracks that are copyrighted. YouTube, for instance, uses automatic scans to match new user uploads to a database of files belonging to content owners. They provide the original author of the content with the option to block, monetise or track their videos uploaded by third parties. The new legislation will hold tech companies more liable for copyrighted content that goes live on their platforms.
Why big tech firms disagree with these changes?
Big companies affected by these major copyright changes argue that the measures aren’t realistic and that artists already get their fair share. YouTube went as far as to warn that EU-based users might be denied access to any of their videos.
There are many firms that disagree with this copyright directive. They have argued that it will harm the free expression in the online environment since the only method to stay safe is to block any user-generated content that make reference to copyrighted material of any kind. Even simple quotes and criticism will fail to pass through. The GDPR record of your processing activities needs to reflect these differences. A generic list of pieces of information with no meaningful links between them will not meet the GDPR’s documentation requirements.
In fact, some warn that the law will work in favour of big tech firms, due to the fact they they will be the only ones who will have the resources required to comply with the new copyright regulations.
How will this affect online news?
While article 13 regulates the releasing of user-generated content, article 11 tackles the sharing of online news.
Publishers argue that news organisations will have a hard time at funding quality journalism. They also consider that tech firms that monetise the sharing of these news articles should pay their share.
According to this directive, information providers will still be able to share news articles. Apparently, Facebook, Google and other such firms will still have the right to display snippets of news articles. This will also apply to Wikipedia and other similar websites.
The fact that this directive could ban memes is one of the main arguments of those who are against it. Since an important part of highly shareable and viral content relies on TV and movie scenes, creating this kind of content will be more difficult.
The changes made this year were aimed at protecting the use of this kind of content for parody, review, criticism and other such purposes. Nevertheless, tech companies consider that this is impossible to implement, since automatic filters are unable to detect whether a piece of content is infringement or simple parody.
When will the new law come into force?
Once the directive passes out of the European council, EU member states will have two years to comply. Since this will probably happen in May or June, the UK will be able to choose which way to go, provided that it has left the EU by then.