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NYC Litigation Blog

Monday, November 26, 2018

New EU Copyright Law May Limit Artists from Sharing Works on Social Media

How would the European Union’s Copyright Directive alter existing copyright laws?

In the age of the internet, artists share much of their work online.  Social media outlets have made it far easier for artists to access the work of other artists and, at times, incorporate some aspects of it into their own piece.  Now, the European Union may take action to crackdown on the unauthorized sharing of copyrighted works online. The proposed Copyright Directive, which is the most significant change to copyright laws in the EU since 2001, could be approved by the European Parliament as soon as September.  If passed, the law could have significant international ramifications in the field of copyright infringement as well.

The Copyright Directive

The proposed EU Copyright Directive features several significant changes to existing copyright laws.  Among them includes a requirement for mega tech companies like Google and Facebook to share their revenues with news organizations whose articles are routinely shared or used in a condensed form by sources like Google News or Facebook’s News Feed.  Additionally, the law would penalize social media platforms if an artists’ copyrighted work is copyrighted without his or her permission.

The purpose of the newly proposed law, according to its proponents, is to better protect copyright holders.  Copyright laws have changed little on an international level in the past 17 years, but technology has rapidly increased and altered the way we share information.  Many feel copyright law must be amended to address the current needs of artists and other copyright holders who are often experiencing infringement of their rights on the internet.

Opponents to the law fear that it could hinder the creations of artists who collaborate or use other’s works, which they mostly access online as inspiration for their own works.  Further, it could impact the copyright holders themselves who wish to share their works on social media for revenue or purely personal reasons.

If passed, the law will place a significant burden on Google and social media sites to ensure users do not upload materials in violation of another’s copyright.  This will likely require tech giants to create new programs that will rapidly search through protected works to alert a prospective uploader as to whether the content is infringing.  Currently, existing platforms attempting this feat have proven error filled and susceptible to copyright trolls. All copyright holders or anyone involved in the tech field will want to closely watch the proposed law to review its ultimate passed version.

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