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European Union Copyright Law Raises Internet Censorship Concerns

Are new copyright protections in Europe a long overdue bolstering of intellectual property rights or a heavy handed attempt to stifle the flow of information? It may depend who you ask.

A majority of European Union countries in April voted in favor sweeping new online copyright protections. The directive, which member countries will have two years to start enforcing, requires search engines like Google to pay for aggregated content. It will also make YouTube and other sharing content sharing platforms legally responsible for copyright-protected material that users post without permission from the copyright owner.

The law is meant to give some teeth to longstanding copyright protections, which some say have been watered down in the internet age. It includes an exception that allows for the use of copyright material for “quotation, criticism, review, caricature as well as parody.”

Still, critics say the new restrictions are tantamount to full blown censorship. Among other fears, they say it could cause search engines and platforms to simply block the use of all copyright-protected liability to avoid liability.

“While we support the rights of copyright holders – YouTube has deals with almost all the music companies and TV broadcasters today – we are concerned about the vague, untested requirements of the new directive,” YouTube Chief Executive Officer Susan Wojcicki wrote in a recent blog post. “It could create serious limitations for what YouTube creators can upload. This risks lowering the revenue to traditional media and music companies from YouTube and potentially devastating the many European creators who have built their businesses on YouTube.”

The company is among a group that is urging E.U. member countries to craft laws that soften the potential blow of the new directive. The two-year window for enforcement “means that the powerful collective voice of creators can still make a major impact,” Wojcicki said in the blog post.

A total of 19 countries voted in favor of the new copyright directive. Poland and Italy were among those who opposed the measure. Belgium, Slovenia and Estonia abstained from voting.

Speak With an Intellectual Property Lawyer

Even without the new E.U. laws, copyright provides some important legal protections to the creators of a wide variety of works, from literature and drama to art and music. A person whose work is being used without his or her permission has the right to sue those responsible for copyright infringement.

If your creative work has been used without your authorization, it is important that you seek the advice of an experienced intellectual property lawyer.

At Glancy Prongay & Murray, our firm has an extensive track record of assisting people and businesses in a wide range of intellectual property disputes. Call us at (310) 201-9150 or contact us online to speak with an intellectual property lawyer today.