Continued protest against Copyright Directive: #SaveYourInternet petition, letters from rights holders, and EU-US trade agreement opinions

13 December 2018

This week has seen several public declarations of support against the implementation of the Copyright Directive, and particularly article 13, ranging from user signatories to letters issued from rights holder organisations.

An online petition (via change.org) as initiated by Save The Internet has reached over 4 million signatories. The petition “make[s] a stand for the preservation of the free internet and freedom of information”, and supports volunteers in protesting the Directive (e.g. flyers, demonstrations, travelling etc.).

Following a previous open letter issued on 1 December, audiovisual sector representatives have issued a further letter to the European Commission requesting the deletion, or “carve-out” exception for their sectors, in respect of article 13. The newest letter reiterates how the current provisions risk consolidating the power of existing large platforms, effectively worsening the position of rights holders as opposed to strengthening it. As such, they request that, short of deleting the new provisions, that the audiovisual sector is excluded completely from the requirements of article 13.

Similarly, a coalition of rights holder representatives (including Universal Music Group owner VIVENDI) have issued an open letter which also cautions that the new provisions risk worsening the position of rights holders. The letter opines “serious concerns about the direction of travel” of the Directive, noting that the “fundamental elements of a solution to the Value Gap/Transfer of Value remain”. The letter appears to seek an absolute approach to OCSSP liability, noting that additional mitigation of liability measures are “deviations” which should be “dismissed” (including e.g. the Commission and Council’s latest texts).

Lastly, the Computer & Communications Industry (CCIA, a US organisation including Amazon, Cloudfare Facebook, Google) have submitted an opinion to the Office of the US Trade Representative ahead of a new trade agreement with the EU, which cautions on the implementation of the new Copyright Directive. The opinion notes:

“If the final EU reform does include these provisions [article 13], there would likely be a corresponding increase in risk for US platforms doing business in the EU, resulting in significant economic consequences for the US digital economy, which depends on the EU market.”

On the other hand, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) have also submitted an opinion on the trade agreement, which encourages the strong copyright protection and enforcement evident in the US-EU trade. Whilst the opinion does not explicitly mention article 13, they do reference “overbroad provisions on copyright safe harbours… [which] threaten the US digital trade surplus in IPR licensing”.