Article 13 upload filter: what do you need to know?

The European Union has been working on an expansion of their copyright law which has caused quite some outrage, but why is it such a big deal?

Article 13 of this new law, better known as the “upload filter” is especially frowned upon. While it strives to protect the intellectual property of its creators on the internet, many wonder whether the law will end the era of open internet.


What is article 13?

Article 13 requires online content sharing service providers such as Youtube and Facebook to prevent their users from sharing copyrighted content. Critics interpret this as forcing these platforms to scan all uploads through an upload filter.

The law makes platforms liable for their users sharing copyrighted materials. If the user is trying to profit from the material, the user is liable. In principle, the law will only affect big powerful corporations such as Facebook and not the normal user.


Why is it happening?

At the moment, creators’ work is protected under the current copyright law. However, sharing copyrighted material on platforms is not currently regulated. Online platforms make money of these shares but creators themselves don’t. Article 13 should correct this value gap by ensuring creators get paid proportionally.

The European Union wants these online platforms to make agreements with creators about how they can use their work.




Why is it good?

The ones who will benefit the most are the creators. Article 13 will ensure that creators receive a fair payment for their work that is shared online. In addition, the illegal sharing of the materials will decrease in case there will be an upload filter.


What is the flipside?

The most common concern is that it will threaten the openness of the internet and turn it into censorship. This is because social platforms are required to prevent their users from sharing copyrighted work and develop mechanisms to detect the copyrighted material. This can be very costly and discourage start up tech companies.

Another consequence is the possible ban of legitimate content use. Even though the law states that legitimate use should not be deleted, the copyright infringement detectors can still ban legal content because the detectors do not always work well.

Think of an example: if you are a teacher, uploading copyrighted content is legal as it is used for educational purposes. However, the filter doesn’t automatically understand it and may prevent the content from being uploaded.


What about memes?

Parodies are exempted from the law which means most memes shouldn’t be affected. However, if you want to make a reaction GIF out of a movie scene it could face some trouble with the upload filter. It will depend on the agreement between right holders and the platform.

What the law will look like exactly should still be determined. The final vote will take place in January 2019 and it will take a year to be implemented in national laws.

On which side are you on?


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