The aim is to update the existing copyright laws for the internet age and put responsibility on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, etc, to make sure that copyrighted material isn’t being illegally shared.

This new law will shift the onus from copyright holders (to enforce copyright protection) to those of major platforms – i.e. making it these platforms responsibility to police the use of copyrighted materials and have mechanisms in place to deal with unauthorised use.

It is thought that these mechanisms will involve the implementation of automated filters, however keeping these filters updated to recognise what is and not copyright infringement is the biggest challenge facing all these platforms….but of course the larger platforms will have more financial resources to hand.

Comment – this isn’t law yet… and whether it will have effect upon UK Copyright law is still to be determined as Brexit negotiations continue.

These new rules require approval by the European Parliament, which is likely to meet in March or April 2019, and each member state will then be given 24 months to adopt these new rules into national laws. A directive sets out a goal that all EU member states must achieve, however it is up to the individual country how they will implement them, as Copyright law varies country to country.

So, whether this new Article 13 really helps the copyright owners remains to be seen? Of course, we must keep up with the technology advancements – however it will be very interesting to see if the actual implementation of this new directive standardises Copyright laws across Europe.

The main question is how this Directive will affect the UK post Brexit?

Currently the UK and other EU member states are party to the main international treaties on copyright and related rights – and these are not dependent upon the UK being a member state of the EU.

In addition, there are EU cross border copyright mechanisms that go beyond these international treaties (e.g. Sui generis database rights; portability of online content service and country-of-origin principle for copyright clearance in satellite broadcasting).

After April 12th, 2019, if no deal is reached the UK membership to these international treaties will remain unchanged. However, the EU cross-border copyright mechanisms will extend only to member states of the EU or EEA – so on exit the UK will be treated by the EU and EEA as a third country and the reciprocal element of these mechanisms will cease to apply to the UK.

It is not clear at the time of writing if and when the new copyright directive will be passed, but if passed on exit day – or in the transitional period but with a deadline date after exit day – then the UK would have an option to make it UK law or not.

The UK is now at a crossroads and a lot hinges on whether a deal or no deal is reached, but whatever the UK decides the EU has played a very important part in shaping our copyright laws to date.

If you have any concerns or questions regarding copyright law in the UK, then please do not hesitate to contact us.