A blog by Jasmin Brieske, a research fellow and PhD student at Goethe University Frankfurt.
Understanding European law and regulatory practices in the ubiquitous context of the Internet requires a broad perspective which is not limited to one national legal framework. As my own research to obtain doctorate in law in Germany is focused on the German approach to the implementation of Art. 17 CDSM-Directive, this particularly proves to be true, as by its very nature, an effective platform regulation cannot stop at national borders.
Having this in mind, I enquired at CREATe about the possibility of joining the team for the summer as a visiting scholar to gain an international perspective on my research. The answer was as friendly as it was encouraging, and with this, my three-month journey as a visiting scholar at the law school of the University of Glasgow and CREATe began.
From April till June 2023, the CREATe team was kind enough to offer me the international and interdisciplinary experience of working and researching at the University of Glasgow. It turns out that three months are by far not enough time – neither to climb all 282 munros (Scotland’s mountains over 3000 feet) nor to make full use of all advantages CREATe has to offer. But as time was flying, I managed to gain valuable insights into the workings of a renowned yet young and continuously growing research institute and benefit from the experience of the CREATe fellows on questions of platform regulation and user freedoms. In particular, the in-depth knowledge and insight in the transposition process of Art. 17 CDSM-Directive proved to be of great help for my own research, in which I focus on the effectiveness and enforceability of the German transposition (the so-called “Urheberrechts-Diensteanbieter-Gesetz”).
This shared interest for the new EU liability framework for service providers for copyright relevant materials uploaded by their users marked also the starting point of my contact to CREATe. In autumn 2021, Martin Kretschmer and Ula Furgal invited me to present research I had undertaken with my supervisor Alexander Peukert on the German transposition of Art. 17 CDSM-Directive at the Morning Coffee with CREATe – a series of online seminars, in which early career researchers have the opportunity to present and discuss their current research projects. This was the foundation not only of the working paper “Coming into force, not coming into effect?” but also of my affiliation with CREATe.
When in Glasgow, I was kindly integrated into the group of CREATe’s PGRs and as part of the group, I had the opportunity to present my current research at the IP reading group. The IP reading group is meant to connect the PhD students of CREATe and offer an informal setting, in which the students are able to share their ideas and findings and test their plausibility in front of other PhD students. Presenting your research to others can be scary, but the IP reading group rewards you with constructive feedback, encouragement and food for thought to develop your arguments further and enhance your PhD as a whole. Most importantly, it is never about putting you on the spot but helping each other out – true to the phrase “a sorrow shared is a sorrow halved”.
When it was my turn to present at the IP reading group, I tested out ideas on potential legal remedies of users against online content sharing service providers deriving out of the German transposition of Art. 17 CDSM-Directive, but also contract and tort law. The presentation was based on the hypothesis that an individual remedy against the blocking of a single content does not suffice to protect the users’ freedom of speech and information, as protected in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. And even though the German implementation of Art. 17 CDSM-Directive is considered a user-friendly legislative attempt putting focus on a specific mode of operation of filtering systems on online platforms, it does not contain any enforcement mechanisms which would ensure that service providers adapt the filtering systems in accordance with the legal standard. Following my own input, the attendees of the IP reading group and I discussed the scope of the collective remedy for users’ associations within the German act and whether this is sufficient to protect users of repeated and systematic restrictions of their content due to malfunctioning filtering systems, and the potential of public law sanctions in comparison to a mere civil law approach.
But it was not only the experience at the IP reading group that made my stay worthwhile. It was also the integration into the CREATe team through the participation in the Monday morning meetings and the joint lunch breaks afterwards. It was the beautiful and intellectually stimulating atmosphere of the University of Glasgow in general and the highly modern ARC building in particular – perfectly portraying the interconnection between old and new that seems to be a key characteristic of the University of Glasgow. And it was especially every single person I met, from PhD students, postdocs, researchers, lecturers and many more.
Spending time at the University of Glasgow and with the CREATe fellows in the ARC taught me particularly two lessons: First, research is valuable beyond borders, and even though the territorial scope of law might be limited to a specific country, the law does not exist in a vacuum but is – especially in the field of platform regulation – influenced and shaped by international standards, beliefs and customs. CREATe gave me the opportunity to explore the more international spheres of Art. 17 CDSM-Directive, and with this, gain a basis to make my research valuable not only for a national but also for an international audience. Apart from that, it’s the personal growth of living and experiencing academic life abroad and the contact with so many brilliant and encouraging scholars what I consider to be the most valuable achievement of my time at the CREATe institute at the University of Glasgow.
I left Glasgow a couple of days ago. Yet, I took a big part of it with me – including all those treasurable ideas, experiences and memories I was able to collect in those three months of being a visiting scholar at CREATe.