Will the European Union's copyright law impact your business?

On Tuesday 26th March, the European Parliament voted in favour of the European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market.

The laws will bring big changes to online copyright, directly impacting the way businesses and individuals share content online.

We spoke to our Cyber Development Executive, Nathan Hankin, about the changes, to find out more about how they might affect your business.

Why do you need to know about the changes to copyright law?

“The new laws are going to change the way we use internet. They’ll likely have as big an impact as 2018’s General Data Protection Regulations, but many people don’t realise it’s gone through or even know it exists!”

“Some people are welcoming the change, others say it’s the end of internet freedom. But either way, you’ll need to understand them if you want to avoid losing content or being held accountable for copyright infringement.”

What is the purpose of the directive?

“The new laws are essentially looking to limit how we share copyrighted content online. The idea being that the responsibility for copyrighted content being shared illegally online, will now lie with the platform it’s shared on.”

“Take YouTube, for example. At the moment, YouTube holds no responsibility for the content shared on its site and users agree that they are solely responsible – it only promises to remove any copyrighted material which is flagged up. These new laws would make them liable for all the material shared via their platform.”

How will the changes affect my business?

“The clauses which will have the most impact on businesses are Article 11 and Article 13.”

“Article 11, known as ‘the link tax’, is all about limiting how news and journalistic material is shared. This means that anyone sharing news articles for public or commercial purposes, would need to pay the publishers for using snippets of the text.”

“But Article 13 has the most people worried. This is the bit which holds tech companies responsible for copyrighted material.Tech firms will have to bring in stricter filters and algorithms which could block genuine content from being uploaded. Most tech companies already remove music and videos with copyrighted content, but now they will need to filter this content before it is uploaded, hence, censoring the internet.”

“Any content found to contain copyrighted material will be removed. This is essentially how businesses will be affected.”

Why is Article 13 such a big concern?

“Article 13 has been nicknamed ‘the meme ban’. This is because, despite exemptions for clips shared for criticism or parody, the likelihood is that the algorithms will filter any material matched as a known copyrighted work. This goes for everything from music, to photography and film snippets.”“It certainly raises uncertainty for the future of social content like memes and GIFs.”

Is there copyright involved with sharing sports content?

“Unfortunately, yes. Article 12a could stop anyone who is not the official organizer of a sports match from posting content. Again, this could put an end to viral GIFs and memes etc. But it could also prevent fans from posting their own images on social media.”

Why are these changes necessary?

“The EU wanted to make sure that ‘copyright rules are fit for the digital era’. The intention of these changes is to make sure that artists, authors and journalists receive proper payment for their work when shared online.”

When will these laws come into effect?

“While the directive has already been voted through by the EU, it will be up to the individual member states whether or not they adopt the new laws. If the UK decides to follow these laws, they will be brought into play gradually over the next two years.”

Do I need to insure my business against copyright violation?

“Increased monitoring by platforms like Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, mean you could easily be found in violation of copyright.”

“If you have a Professional Indemnity policy, you may already be covered for media liability. This will cover legal costs and compensation should you be found guilty of copyright.”

“If you don’t have Professional Indemnity, you should take out this cover under a Cyber and Data Liability insurance. The media liability section is heavily overlooked, but Cyber and Data Insurance is there to protect you for all methods of attack, including copyright.”

If you have concerns about how these new laws could affect your business, contact your local advisor today.