The implementation of Art 17 (formerly Article 13) into national laws will have a profound effect on what users can say and share online. The controversial rule, part of the EU’s copyright directive approved last year, has the potential to turn tech companies and online services operators into copyright police. It is now up to national Member States to implement the directive and to ensure that user rights and freedom of speech is giving priority over notoriously inaccurate filtering and harmful monitoring of user content.
The initial forays into transposition were catastrophic. Both France and the Netherlands have failed to present a balanced copyright implementation proposal. Now, the Germany government presented launched a public consultation on a draft bill to implement the EU copyright directive. The draft takes a step in the right direction. Options for users to pre-flag uploads as "authorized" and exceptions for every day uses are a clear added value from a user perspective. However, in its current shape, the draft fails to adequately protect user rights and freedom of expression. It seems inevitable that service providers will use content recognition technologies to monitor all user uploads and privacy rights are not considered at all.
We have therefore recently submitted comments to the German government with recommendations of how to improve the current version. Our message is clear: have the interest of users and freedom of speech in mind rather than solidifying the dominance of big tech platforms that already exist.