EU Proposes New + Improved Copyright Law

Sorry in advance for the length. I have deleted as much as I could.

The new copyright laws that may be imposed in Europe should give anyone with an Internet business pause. Companies will be responsible for making sure copyrighted materials are not uploaded to their platform. Such a simple sounding concept gets nuanced rather quickly.

Copyright originates when the original work is created, and applies to both published and unpublished works. When you click the shutter, laser a unique item, type words, or pen art to paper, you just got a copyright.
Copyright is automatic, no special effort required. However, paperwork IS necessary for trademark and patent (which is beyond the scope in this discussion). Also, registration IS required for enforcement of your rights, but the originator is not required to register anything to get the right to say their work is copyrighted.

So here is where it gets complicated with the new EU endeavor. When you post a photo of your child’s scribbles on the fridge, have you in essence just violated your youngster’s copyright, or is the Photo ‘your’ copyrighted material? Laugh if you must, but this exhibits the ease of confusion with a raw interpretation of the enactment.

Then look at any google image search such as “blah blah blah IMAGE”. The several pages of images presented are ALL inherently copyrighted, just by their being there (but are they SUPPOSE to be there?).

If you go to Pinterest or Etsy, there are a magnitude of (supposedly) copyright infringement cases to be seen. I say supposedly, because a license can be had for most copyrighted materials. The conflict comes when trying to determine if an individual has indeed gone through a license agreement.

Some agreements seem obsessive, and are obviously for bulk sale corporations, since they ask for all business head and money manager names and contact information, plus quarterly sales reports, and more, including mandatory links to their money site (not seen any ask for the name of your first born – yet).
All of that is not going to be done by someone selling 6 items on Etsy.

I imagine for the obvious (like Disney, Marvel, etc) you will be required to display license numbers on sales sites, same as you currently see on contractor trucks around town. In the new and improved EU Internet, I just do not see them getting through the filters without that discrete verification.

YouTube has already warned about automatic filters, and they should know, since they have had to curtail their own efforts when items that were valid have been flagged (in error) as denied.

The 3D printer world has been addressing this for years now, and most of the sites have a robust self-correction scheme running. Still, some just do not care.

If you are making a one-off for yourself or a personal gift, I do not think you have much to fear. But as soon as you start to mass produce something (which is very easy to do once you have made one successfully) and post it for sales on the Internet, it becomes that Horse Of A Different Color you have always wondered about. Currently, it seems not so important, except for a few monetized brands. With the new EU rules though, it will be.

Instead of the original idea of One World, I suspect this will eventually make for multiple Internets. Content seen in the EU will not be the same as what is seen in other areas, much to the determent, (or advantage - depending on which side of the spectrum you are on this issue), of those living in the EU. For any Internet Company though, they will have to make compromises if they want to continue in an EU market. The framework is already advancing at Google, with their Controlled Access Protocols being developed for China. They will just need to adjust filters to correspond to the New EU Internet rules.

I really hope I am seeing the bitter edge of this, and it will not function like it seems to me. Time will tell. Plus, it has NOT passed yet, so…

Anyone have better insight into how all this is being handled? Anyone in a test site area?


Only have a moment to comment between meetings: the new EU directive is an unmitigated disaster for the Internet and for creative people everywhere. It’s not at all about what it asserts to be. My sincere hope is that it will be litigated into oblivion. Cory Doctorow has been following this closely and writing about it. His latest piece contains links to a lot more of his perspective on it:

In any case, my understanding is that it is going to take Awhile, at least, before there is any actual legal framework in place to actually require compliance.

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Also consider the fridge manufacturer’s copyrights.


This throws another log in the works when you start talking about Fashion as nothing about fashion is supposed to be copyrightable but the gray area of that has been huge. Now perhaps various famous French Designers will see this as a great benefit. But several years being litigated into oblivion would seem probable but endless pain in the meantime also likely.

Also will be interesting what companies are affected–if based in the EU, or just doing business in the EU? To date Etsy lets shops post anything, and it’s up to the copyright holder to determine if it needs to be delisted and action taken against that shop.

So is the EU going to require companies (esp. marketplaces like Etsy) to have a team of lawyers to review content before letting it get posted? (For some who are victims of copyright infringement, that is really appealing, though).

If just applies to companies based in EU, guess they’ll find companies will leave the EU cheaper than hiring a stable of attorneys to manage this…

Looks like copyright law may be a great job market soon! :wink:

That’s the idea. It would apply to anything uploaded to your site that can be viewed in an EU country. File storage services and search engines exempted. Also, the company has to be of a certain, TBD size. Presumably you wouldn’t need a team of lawyers if you only let big companies upload to your site; it’s not a get out of jail free card for the actual violator.

It is going to require automated filtering, which inevitably will be a disaster for everyone but huge tech companies.

YouTube’s ContentID filtering system is the best current working example of this. It has cost over $100m to develop so far and, makes a lot of frustrating, difficult-to-appeal mistakes.

Every company that wants to allow user-provided content will need something similar to comply.

The directive grants partial limits on copyright liability for the first three years of an online service’s existence, removed once a firm attains over 5m unique visitors in a given month or hits annual revenues of €10m. In other words, the exemptions are pretty useless.

Yup, what Sonny Bono and Congress did for Disney, the EU is doing for Bertelsmann.


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