Digital censorship averted as UK shelves Copyright Directive

Nearly a year after passage of the EU Copyright Directive, which opened the door to automated upload filters that damage free speech, the UK Government decided not to implement it.

This decision is welcome, but rightsholder interests are certain to push for similar laws domestically. Open Rights Group (ORG) stands ready to oppose similar measures if and when they arise.

The latest on the Copyright Directive

Article 17 (formerly Article 13) of the 2019 EU Copyright Directive makes Internet platforms liable for user content. This obligation encourages widespread use of automated filters to scan all uploads for infringing content.

Algorithms fail to grasp context, which is needed to recognise legal exceptions to copyright. That means important research, commentary, creative works and parodies will be mistakenly identified and blocked along with actual copyright violations.

Internet platforms do not make good copyright enforcers. They will err on the side of caution and overblock to avoid liability penalties. 

Despite industry talking points, Article 17 is not about protecting the interests of artists and other creatives. It’s about control and benefiting big business.

Open Rights Group (ORG) campaigned and lobbied for years to remove Article 17. Despite widespread popular opposition across Europe, Article 17 became law when the Directive narrowly passed in March 2019.

In a stunning announcement, the UK Government decided not implement the Directive. The decision is welcome, but similar domestic laws may be introduced in the future.

The Story So Far

MEPs hold off Article 13’s Censorship Machine

The odds were steep, but thanks to everyone who contacted their representatives, MEPs got the message that Article 13 and it’s automated “upload filters” would be a catastrophe for free expression online.
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MEPs start push back on online copyright censorship

The EU is introducing some major changes to copyright legislation under a programme to improve the European Digital Single Market.
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