Berlin 13.02.2019

eco Association: “Last Chance for a Fair European Copyright Squandered”

The EU trilogue negotiations on copyright have just finished: The planned reform of EU copyright is therefore on the verge of being concluded.

The Chair of eco – Association of the Internet Industry, Oliver Süme, comments: “We have fought for a long time for a modern copyright law that does justice to the digital age. Unfortunately, the chance for digitally-compatible copyright has not been taken, and the many critical voices against a European copyright which includes upload filters and ancillary copyright have been ignored. Instead of a fair balance of interests, the protectionist ambitions have prevailed, which will ultimately result in the disadvantaging of digital services and business models. In this way, Europe sends a clear signal, saying no to innovation and technical progress. The amended copyright will become a barrier to digitalization in Europe.” More than 4.7 million citizens have signed #saveyourinternet, the biggest petition thus far in Europe, against the planned copyright reforms.

Introducing a European copyright law that ignores the entire potential of the digital economy and impedes the digitalization of society and the development of new innovative business models throughout Europe – simply to protect traditional industries and outdated business models – is in no way appropriate to the realization of the European digital single market: “This decision will lead to the Internet in Europe being filtered to death; it will change it fundamentally. There is now the threat of a radical violation of the fundamental principles of a state ruled by law, if in future companies and not courts will be responsible for deciding what we are allowed to see, hear, and read on the Internet. Moreover, a European ancillary copyright law would only delay the necessary digitalization of the publishing and news industry, would impede innovation, and would become a competitive disadvantage for Europe as an investment location,” Süme says.

According to Article 13 of the new copyright law, platform operators – bypassing the provisions in the E-Commerce Directive – will also be immediately responsible for infringements of copyright committed on their sites. As a consequence, companies will now need to prevent Internet users from uploading potentially copyright-protected material or, as a precaution, purchase all available licenses – something which is simply not feasible. As a result, they will need to install upload filters, which are supposed to be able to automatically detect copyright infringements. “The infrastructure for these upload filters first needs to be developed – here, we are talking about immense costs. Money that in particular small platforms and start-ups will not be able to afford, and the planned exemption clauses for young businesses do not deserve to be designated as such.”

Germany originally demanded an exception for small and medium-sized enterprises with an annual turnover of up to 20 million Euros. However, this was rejected by France. “Germany literally keeled over in the negotiations. It is explicitly stated in the coalition agreement between the CDU, CSU, and SPD that obligating platforms to use upload filters is to be rejected as disproportionate. The German federal government must now turn their words into action – Germany should speak out clearly at the EU level against the introduction of this disproportionate tool,” Süme demands.

The draft of the agreement achieved in the trilogue still needs to be confirmed by the European Parliament and Council. eco calls for both the German government and the members of the European Parliament to rethink their position – in the interests of Internet users, as well as of the German and European digital economy.

eco: Plan by Ministers of the Interior to Delete Terrorist Content Is Unrealistic and Will Promote an Indiscriminate Culture of Deletion on the Internet