Article 13 is the part of the new EU Copyright Directive that covers how “online content sharing services” should deal with copyright-protected content, such as television programmes and movies.
It refers to services that primarily exist to give the public access to “protected works or other protected subject-matter uploaded by its users”, so it is likely to cover services such as YouTube, Dailymotion and Soundcloud.
However, there is also a long list of exemptions, including:
Non-profit online encyclopaedias
Open source software development platforms
Cloud storage services
What does Article 13 say?
Article 13 says content-sharing services must license copyright-protected material from the rights holders.
These rules apply to services that have been available in the EU for more than three years, or have an annual turnover of more than €10m (£8.8m, $11.2m).
Article 13 says it shall “in no way affect legitimate uses” and people will be allowed to use bits of copyright-protected material for the purpose of criticism, review, parody and pastiche.
Critics say it would be impossible to pre-emptively license material in case users upload it. Article 13 does not force companies to filter what users are uploading, although critics say companies will be left with no choice. YouTube already has its Content ID system, which can detect copyright-protected music and videos and block them. But critics say developing and implementing this type of filter would be too expensive for small companies or start-ups.
Others have warned that algorithms often make mistakes, and might take down legitimately used content.
“Filters will subject all communications of every European to interception and arbitrary censorship if a black-box algorithm decides their text, pictures, sounds or videos are a match for a known copyrighted work,” said a blog by online rights group EFF.
Article 13 does say services must put in place a “complaint and redress mechanism” so that their users can quickly resolve disputes if their content is blocked by mistake.
Many in the entertainment industry support Article 13, as it will hold websites accountable if they fail to license material or take it down.
The proposed law will face a final vote in the European Parliament in the next few weeks. If it passes, it will be implemented by national governments over the next two years.