18 October 2017Copyright

EFF wants ‘illegal’ EU copyright reform deleted

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and 56 other civil society groups have demanded the deletion of an EU copyright reform because they say it would require illegal practices.

In a  letter sent to senior EU figures including Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, the organisations provided several reasons for removing article 13 of the proposed new copyright directive covering the Digital Single Market.

In September 2016, the European Commission  released proposals for modernising the EU copyright regime, with four pieces of new legislation suggested.

The directive on the single market contains article 13, which covers the role of internet companies in dealing with copyrighted content.

A European Commission  explanatory memorandum states that article 13 “creates an obligation on information society service providers storing and giving access to large amounts of works and other subject matter uploaded by their users to take appropriate and proportionate measures to ensure the functioning of agreements concluded with rightholders and to prevent the availability on their services of content identified by rightholders in cooperation with the service providers”.

But the EFF and others said this provision includes obligations on internet companies that would be impossible to respect “without the imposition of excessive restrictions on citizens’ fundamental rights”.

They said article 13 appears to provoke such legal uncertainty that online services will have “no other option than to monitor, filter and block EU citizens’ communications if they are to have any chance of staying in business”.

The letter added that the provision breaches the Court of Justice of the European Union’s decisions in Scarlet Extended and Netlog/Sabam, where “the requirement to install a system for filtering electronic communications” was rejected.

“Therefore, a legislative provision that requires internet companies to install a filtering system would almost certainly be rejected by the Court of Justice because it would contravene the requirement that a fair balance be struck between the right to intellectual property on the one hand, and the freedom to conduct business and the right to freedom of expression, such as to receive or impart information, on the other.

“In particular, the requirement to filter content in this way would violate the freedom of expression set out in article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.”

The letter was also signed by groups including the Civil Liberties Union for Europe and European Digital Rights.

You can track the progress of the directive  here.

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