The European Union made the first step for the adoption of the directive that limits the freedom of expression on the Internet

On the 20th of June 2018 the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament voted in favour of the adoption of the Proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the digital single market.

Before the voting process of this proposed directive, Homo Digitalis had contacted Mr. Chrysogonos, the only Greek representative in the Legal Affairs Committee, suggesting that he should examine in detail the Article 13 of the directive.

The Article 13 in detail:

The use of content from service providers of the society of information who save and provide access to a great bulk of material that is uploaded by the internet users.

The service providers of the society of information who save and provide access to a great bulk of material that is uploaded by the internet users, are getting, in collaboration with the beneficiaries, measures in order to ensure the function of the agreements which are appended with the beneficiaries for the use of their creations and other owned material or the deterrence of their availability again in collaboration of the two sides. The aforementioned measures, for example the use of effective technologies of content identification, are suitable and proportional. The service providers provide the beneficiaries with sufficient information concerning the usage and application of the measures, whereas, wherever needed, they file reports for the recognition and use of the material.

The Member States ensure that the service providers referred in paragraph 1 are establishing mechanisms of complaints and compensation available to users in case of any difference with the application of measures as referred in paragraph 1.

The Member States facilitate, on a case-by-case basis, the cooperation between the service providers of the society of information and the beneficiaries, hosting dialogue between the stakeholders, in order to clarify the best practices, such as the use of suitable and proportional content identification technologies, considering among others the nature of each service, the technology availability and their effectiveness in consideration of the technological advancements.

Specifically Homo Digitalis highlighted that article 13 may change the Internet as we know it.

– Creativity and freedom of speech will be severely harmed, because algorithms are not always in the position to identify the difference between the legal and illegal use of material, which is subject to copyrights and which is used in research, commenting or criticism and parody. If the use of all this material is managed by automatic systems which decide based on the letter and not the spirit of the law, then creativity and freedom of speech will be limited inevitably.

-There are no suitable technical tools for the application of the Article 13. There is no existing technology of recognition/identification, which can efficiently inspect all the kind of material that is referred in the proposed directive, which include “content, audio material, video material, images and software”. Therefore, it is irrational to expect from the courts of the 27 Member States to decide on which are the most efficient technical tools and means for the application of the directive in each case.

– The entities that provide Internet services should not be responsible for the application of the copyright law, as the Article 13 provides. In order to ensure their compliance and avoid fines and penalties, the companies will become all the more protective concerning copyrights, greatly limiting the freedom of expression. The provision of the right to proceed in deleting content as a result of copyrights violation, will overpower those companies, because there is no possibility provided to the users to challenge such deletions, even if the content was legal.

Mr. Chrysogonos proposed its amendment during the voting session. Unfortunately, his proposal was denied and the text was adopted by the committee of Legal Issues. However, this was only the first stage from where this proposed Directive had to pass until it becomes a part of the EU legislation.

It is highly possible that in the beginning of July, a voting session of the plenary of the EU Parliament will occur for this text, for which the committee voted in favor of. Finally, the European Parliament will be called to vote if this proposal will become a directive. This is expected to occur possibly either on December 2018 or January 2019.

It is obvious that that we are still in the beginning of the road for the adoption of this controversial directive. Homo Digitalis will continue to inform you on any news or advancements in this case, while concurrently fighting with all its means to ensure that the Internet remains a means of free expression and sharing of ideas.