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International Tech

A change in copyright law at the European Union could impact you.

Ajay Ramanathan

Bengaluru, April 10, 2019.

In late March of this year, the European Union has passed the final vote on new copyright law. Termed as the ‘Directive on the Digital Single Market,’ the law holds intermediaries like Facebook and Youtube responsible for copyright material being shared illegally on their platforms.  After much deliberation, the law was passed by the European Parliament.  The implementation of these would be carried out by the individual countries within the European Union.

There are two provisions that have courted their own share of controversy.  Namely, article 11 and article 13. Article 11 puts the onus of these aggregators to pay publishers for using snippets of their articles. This is termed as ‘link tax’.

Article 13 requires aggregators to remove copyrighted material from their websites. Some contend that this mechanism would ensure that content creators are properly paid for the material. Many, however, are apprehensive that this provision would affect ‘memes’.

Others believe that Article 13 would have a negative impact on content creators around the world Indian creators are likely to feature in the demographic. The subscriber base of the most-watched Indian Youtuber is Amit Bhadana  with 12.2 million subscribers.

Druthi Polishetty,  is a Bengaluru based-musician who uploads covers of popular music on Youtube. If regulations at Youtube with regard to copyright become stringent, the lives of those like Polishetty would become harder, as she would no longer be able to engage in her activity.

Supreme Court of India Advocate Abhishek Singh put things in perspective. “As far as the liability of intermediaries is concerned, YouTube already a C&D system, where those who have a copyright claim over a system can monitor how it’s being used.”

Singh went through the various protection measures that copyright owners have against potential infringement. “At the end of the day, the sole motivation of producing content is revenue. The copyright owner is notified when the content is being used by another party. If the latter does not obtain permission, then the copyright owner has a number of measures at his disposal. They could either get the video deleted or have it muted.”

Singh added that the system cannot be foolproof.

“Having the aggregator blocked is not an option. There is already a grievance redressal mechanism where one can approach the court. Aggregators must ensure however that a mechanism of checks and balances is maintained.”

However, Singh was quick to draw the line. Mentioning services like Netflix and Hotstar, he said, “Platforms judge content according to certain parameters. Having too many restrictions would push  new content creators away.”

“An existing system is in place. It could be improved, but I don’t think it should be made more stringent. A balance needs to be maintained.”

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