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UN Human Rights Expert Warns EU Not To Pass Article 13

from the it-will-be-bad dept

The UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression has put out another warning that the EU's move towards approving the EU Copyright Directive, and Article 13 in particular, is inconsistent with human rights standards. That's the polite way of saying that it's going to trample all over the public's rights, and especially rights concerning free speech.

“Europe has a responsibility to modernise its copyright law to address the challenges of the digital age,” said the UN’s Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression ahead of a critical vote on the Directive. “But this should not be done at the expense of the freedom of expression that Europeans enjoy today.”

“Article 13 of the proposed Directive appears destined to drive internet platforms toward monitoring and restriction of user-generated content even at the point of upload. Such sweeping pressure for pre-publication filtering is neither a necessary nor proportionate response to copyright infringement online.”

Kaye rightly notes that the proposal, as it stands today, would also entrench the biggest internet companies, rather than enabling real competition:

“In the long run, this would imperil the future of information diversity and media pluralism in Europe, since only the biggest players will be able to afford these technologies.”

He also calls out the fact that this proposal is vague where it needs to be specific, and yet stupidly specific in situations where the drafters clearly don't understand the technology or the nature of expression on the internet:

In the absence of specific requirements on platforms and Member States to defend freedom of expression, it is far from clear how either will comply with the Directive’s proposed safeguards, such as the requirement that “quotation, criticism, review” and the “use [of copyrighted works] for the purpose of caricature, parody or pastiche” be protected, the Special Rapporteur said.

“Even the most experienced lawyers struggle to distinguish violations of copyright rules from exceptions to these rules, which vary across Member States,” Kaye added. “The lack of clear and precise language in the Directive would create even more legal uncertainty.”

“Misplaced confidence in filtering technologies to make nuanced distinctions between copyright violations and legitimate uses of protected material would escalate the risk of error and censorship. Who would bear the brunt of this practice? Typically it would be creators and artists, who lack the resources to litigate such claims.”

It's the last point above that's most important. Even as some content creators are supporting Article 13, the real impact on them will be incredibly damaging. As tons of YouTube creators have learned over the past few years, automated filters frequently create more headaches than they're worth. Legitimate content is regularly taken down, and it's extra difficult for independent creators to make themselves heard. And this will become much worse in a post-Article 13 world, where you have less competition, since only a few internet giants can deal with the requirements of the law.

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Filed Under: article 13, censorship, copyright, david kaye, eu, eu copyright directive, free speech, human rights, un


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