5 July 2019Copyright

Winning younger generations over to the value of copyright

The fierce debate around the EU Copyright Directive highlights the need for stakeholders to explain the importance of copyright and IP to younger generations.

This was the view expressed by Axel Voss MEP, speaking at “Westminster Media Forum Keynote Seminar: UK copyright policy - value exchange, international relationships and the Copyright Directive” this morning, July 5, in London.

A strong advocate of the new law, Voss argued that the intense criticism of the controversial articles 15 and 17, formerly 11 and 13, was emblematic of the challenges in adapting the digital world to meet the needs of IP rights owners.

For example, Voss claimed that the controversy over the potential implementation of upload filters for online platforms was fuelled in part by tech platforms and “large European corporations which perceived threats to their economic interests”.

Voss argued that it was more important than ever for stakeholders to defend the importance of copyright and IP to a public concerned over the implications of the directive.

This is particularly true with respect to the younger generation, he said.

Voss claimed that younger people did not have a strong enough understanding of the value of copyright and IP, and this required stakeholders to be active in putting the relevant arguments forward on social media.

He also urged rights owners and the legal community to work together in campaigning publicly against the interests of large tech companies who he said had invested in opposing the directive.

Also a member of the EU Parliament’s committee on legal affairs, Voss said that one of the biggest challenges for those backing the law was the suggestion that it would require the implementation of upload filters on online platforms.

One audience member questioned Voss as to how article 17 could be implemented without the introduction of content filters, given that it makes online platforms liable for infringing content.

Voss replied that this was more fundamentally a problem in the relationship between copyright and the digital world, rather than the reform itself.

For online platforms which host large amounts of video material, for example, Voss said they would “have to use technical measures” to achieve compliance with the directive.

These provisions, however, simply reflected the reality of the digital world, he said.

Commenting on the potential implications of the directive for the UK, Simon Terrington, founder at Terrington Advisory and former director of content policy at UK communications regulator Ofcom, said that the directive “strikes a really good balance” for the various stakeholders.

He said that the obligations it placed on tech platforms were “appropriate”, commenting that they had reached a level of “economic and technical maturity” which would equip them to implement the directive.

Terrington also argued that the directive would give more power to journalists and publishers.

Drawing on his experience at Ofcom, he said that the BBC’s market share with respect to news consumption was rising, placing pressure on newspapers and other news outlets.

The directive would restore some greater negotiating power to journalistic outlets with respect to the use of their copyright, he said, and suggested that these bodies should negotiate collectively to maximise the returns for the industry.

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