Copyright – implementation of the EU directive

29 Jun 2021 12:45h - 13:45h

Event report

The WS6 session on ‘Copyright – Implementation of the EU Directive’ was dedicated to the EU Copyright in the Digital Single Market (CDSM) Directive adopted in 2019. While the deadline for implementing the directive has passed, so far only four member states have introduced it into national law. Moreover, in the upcoming period, court decisions on the compatibility of Article 17 with the Fundamental Right to Freedom of Expression and Information are likely to surface.

The discussants for this session were Mr Patrick Breyer (Member of European Parliament), Mr Paul Keller (Open Future Foundation), Mr Justin Jütte (UCD Sutherland School of Law) and Ms Ania Helseth (Strategic Policy Manager EU Affairs at Facebook). The session was moderated by Mr Gregory Engels (Pirate Parties International).

Article 17 of the Copyright Directive

The discussion opened with a remark that it is not surprising that only a handful of states have implemented the copyright directive reform, given that governments were preoccupied last year with other pressing issues. It was emphasised that an implementation limbo has resulted from a lack of timely guidance; but, as well, controversy has arisen concerning Article 17 that defines the way content could be shared online while abiding with copyright law. The participants noted that Germany is the only country, so far, that has adopted a mechanism on how better to cope with Article 17. Yet following numerous protests, government representatives have made promises to mitigate the arising problems.

The Copyright directive and human rights concerns

It was also pointed out that the implementation of the directive has the potential to damage internet users and internet rights, and that copyright can serve negative trends such as surveillance and control on the internet. Therefore, a need arises to combat such practices and to combat the idea that machines can govern what we can see or read on the internet.

Elaborating further on the interplay between filtering and copyright infringement, one discussant stressed that filters are capable of detecting matches, but, in essence, cannot recognise contexts.

Speaking on the need to strike a balance between copyright protection and fundamental freedoms, one panellist noted that oversight of content requires supervision to ensure that the effects for different stakeholders are similar. Some kind of institutional mediator or an existing actor should be given authority to deal with content control.

The perspectives of technical companies were also discussed. To illustrate, the Facebook representative observed that Facebook takes proprietary rights very seriously. At the same time, the company also observes the rights of their users. In order to conform with the directive, Facebook introduced changes that allow content owners to maintain control over their respective content and, further, has decided to increase investment in compliance processes.