19.05.2021

eco Association Warns of Consequences of Planned Copyright Reform: Upload Filters Paralyse Exchange on Online Platforms

The German CDU/CSU and the SPD parliamentary groups have recently agreed on a copyright law reform, which is expected to be passed in the Bundestag next Thursday. eco – Association of the Internet Industry expresses sharp criticism of the reformed law, stating that the expectations regarding a press publishers’ ancillary copyright are illusory, and that the consistent implementation of the value-gap rules will only function by means of upload filters. The association warns of serious consequences for online platforms as well as freedom of expression throughout Europe.

eco’s Chair Oliver Süme has this to say on the matter:

“There is really no sense of a balanced compromise and fair reconciliation of interests between rightholders, creators and platform providers. It is bad enough that platforms have to pay for online content such as caricatures, parodies or pastiches that are accessible offline without a licence. What’s hard to believe is the fact that operators will also have to contend with written warnings if legal content is wrongly filtered, while in the worst-case scenario, rightholders will for a short time not be allowed to submit notices. Only the judiciary – and not private providers and companies – should decide on what is right and what is wrong. The proposal that platform operators should no longer be liable under copyright law if they enable internal complaint procedures is at best a small concession on the part of politicians.”

The eco Chair also criticises the fact that the copyright reform for a press publisher’s ancillary copyright is to come into force as early as 7 June, and for upload filters as early as 1 August. In Süme’s view, having such a short lead-in time for practical implementation is highly unrealistic. Moreover, it is still unclear as to whether smaller platforms will also have to comply with upload filters and complaints procedures in the future. Providers would need time for the complex adjustments and also more planning capacity for the future in order to clarify unresolved issues.

“The amendments will ultimately lead to a massive curtailment of freedom of expression,” Süme continues. “The creative and intellectual exchange of users on online platforms as we know and value it must not be brought to a standstill by the introduction of upload filters.”

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