Statements from Rapporteur Voss and German Government suggest Article 13 filters are inevitable

13 March 2019

Interview responses between Axel Voss and Deutsche Well have been read to acknowledge the inevitability of platforms requiring upload filters in order to comply with Article 13 of the Copyright Directive. When asked if Article 13 would negatively impact certain user-uploaded sites, Voss appeared to suggest that platforms such as YouTube should perhaps not exist based on such a business model:

“If you have a massive platform like YouTube you will have to use a technological solution. Everyone has these obligations. They have created a business model with the property of other people – on copyright protected works. If the intention of the platform is to give people access to copyright protected works then we have to think about whether this kind of business should exist.”

Further to this, a recent blog post by Florian Mueller has highlighted a statement by Christian Lange (state secretary in the Federal Ministry of Justice) suggesting the inevitability of filtering technology during earlier discussions in the German government:

“In the federal government’s view it appears likely that algorithmic measures will have to be taken in connection with large volumes of data for practical reasons alone.”

Despite what is described as a “well-intentioned” exception from these provisions to benefit websites such as Wikipedia, Wikipedia Germany has also come to a similar conclusion on the inevitability of filtering in a recent blog post. They acknowledge that, whilst “upload filters” are not explicitly mentioned “it’s like saying that the Road Bureau does not really need to put fences along the roads to protect it from wildlife accidents, but can also post a person every 30 meters to keep an eye out.” (r.e. on the choice of implementing technological enforcements or negotiating licensing agreements with right holders). Wikipedia Germany also intends to “black out” on 21st of March in protest of the proposed reforms (similarly to the Italian Wikipedia back in 2018).