Article 13. If you have a YouTube channel or spend any amount of time on the platform you can’t miss it. But what is all the fuss about? Should creatives be worried about it?
What is Article 13?
Article 13 is part of a new copyright directive voted for by the European Parliament (though it isn’t law yet). But keep reading because it doesn’t just affect the EU.
The European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market is intended as a positive move to limit how copyrighted content is shared on line. it is an attempt to align copyright law with the fast pace of the development of the internet.
The Article places responsibility for taking down content if it infringes copyright on any websites that host user-generated content. Such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit etc. I am sure you can add quite a few to the list.
What surprised me is that this is not a new thing. Consultations took place on this years ago and it has been worked on in the background for some time. But there has been an explosion of commentary about it as it gets closer to implementation. I only started to hear about it over the last couple of months, mainly due to a YouTube campaign (of which more later).
A vote on the final wording of the Directive will take place in January 2019. Once approved there will be a two year implementation period during which member states will be required to produce their own legislation in line with the Directive. To be honest, what will actually happen legislatively in practice still remains unclear at this point.
The Directive Has Supporters
In making these large user-generated platforms liable for copyright infringements, the Directive would supposedly direct more revenue from tech giants towards artists and journalists. At least that was the plan.
All sounds good doesn’t it? As an artist, I have lost track of how many times I have seen artist friends complaining about copyright infringement (and indeed have seen it with my own work).
Certainly some leading bodies in the creative industry think it is a good thing and have come out in support of it. They include The Society of Authors and various European music and film and media organisations. Some think it will help to break up the monopoly currently enjoyed by larger platforms. It may mean that creatives finally get the reward they are entitled to rather than the big money going to the big platforms.
Those Against The Directive Are Worried
The Directive, and Article 13 in particular, has a lot of organisations and individuals pitted against it. Those against the directive include Google, Amazon, Ebay, Facebook, Netflix and most obviously, in terms of activity, YouTube. Not least because there are questions in how platforms would ensure that content does not violate copyright? It can’t be done manually, just think of the millions of uploads every day. Can it be done electronically using automatic content filters?
I’ll let YouTube explain for itself what it sees as the problem for YouTube and how the solution may affect not just the EU but creatives internationally.
Have I got your attention yet? So an automatic approach is more likely to be a general content ban rather than a logistically impossible attempt to monitor uploads or review existing channels’ content.
There is still time for the wording in Article 13 to be amended but if it goes through in its current form it will be devastating for many people. Think of the many creatives who make large amounts of money on-line through their content creation for example.
More Than Just Article 13 To Think About
Actually it is not just Article 13 that is creating waves. Article 11 includes the requirement for sites such as Facebook and Google paying to use or summarize news articles. It is being seen as a form of taxation. Though details of how it might work in practice are unclear, Google have already said this may even lead to their news platform having to shut down. Wikipedia has managed to get an exemption.
Article 12a is also raising some eyebrows. This gives sports organizers the rights to any media that is produced at their events. Theoretically that include photos or videos taken by the crowd attending the sports event. I know a lot of artists involved in sports photography who may be affected by that Article.
Should Creatives Be Worried About Article 13?
This blog just gives a flavor of what is going on. It doesn’t contain all the detail and is intended as a wake up call if you have not heard of the Directive before. I would encourage people to do some reading, watch some videos and get up to date with the Directive. You need to understand what it might mean for you as an artist or writer.
For my own opinion, the possible blanket ban and removal of existing content is a concern. In particular, I have a YouTube channel that works beautifully for me for marketing and I would be sorry to see it go. I will certainly be looking to download my videos and ensuring I have them stored safely just in case! But this Directive is much more than just YouTube. So, here is the question. How could it affect you?
Suggested reading to get you started:
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!