EU-approved directive blames platforms for content released on the network; rules update should happen in the future, says lawyer

On 15 December, European Union (EU) countries gave a green light to a copyright reform package on the internet, which aims to legally hold the platforms accountable for the content released - the EU Copyright Directive in the Digital Single Market . Thereafter, each country has two years to implement the new rules at the national level.

Adopted last month by the European Parliament, the proposed reform sparked protests in Europe. Critics fear that the new measures could hinder the free exchange of information and creativity on the internet. On the other hand, proponents of reforms have said that they will ensure that online platforms give fair remuneration to content producers.

In short, the bill means that social media platforms will have to ensure that content available online after upload by users does not violate copyright rules. Companies will need license agreements with rights holders, such as musicians, artists and authors, to use their content.

In addition, a clause requires news aggregators such as Google News or social networks to pay more to producers of informative content, such as news publishing houses and news agencies, for fragments of texts shown in search results.

Non-profit organizations and encyclopedias, such as Wikipedia, are still allowed to use content for educational and research purposes. And companies with annual sales of less than 10 million euros are exempt from the new regulations.

The copyright rules currently in force in the European Union date back to 2001, when YouTube and Facebook did not yet exist, and are no longer appropriate to the internet age, argued the European Commission when it proposed the reform in 2016.

The reform was subject to two years of heated debate. Internet giants like YouTube, Wikipedia, Google and Facebook are among the opponents of the changes, as well as advocates for a free internet.

'Two steps back'

Even before EU directives were passed by the countries of the European Union, Kent Walker, senior vice president of global affairs at Google, published a blog post entitled "EU Copyright Policy: A Step Forward, Two backwards, "in which he says that instead of helping, the directive could contain the growth of Europe's creative and digital economy.

For him, "platforms that make good faith efforts to help copyright holders identify and protect their work should not face responsibilities for every single content a user makes available." The directive, in its opinion, creates requirements that can result in online services making excessive blockages to content to limit legal risk. In addition, the directive may restrict how much information from press vehicles online services will show to consumers by limiting access to a variety of news sources and reducing traffic to news vehicles, Walker said.

Updating rules in Brazil is inevitable, says lawyer

The European directive aims to ensure that content producers, copyright holders, are remunerated for the reproduction of their works on online platforms by holding digital platforms accountable for the reproduction of content that infringes copyright, explains Antonio Curvello , partner and rights specialist Author in Daniel Advogados, of São Paulo. "If you look at cases of technology companies like YouTube, it is known that there is an indiscriminate disclosure of musical or audiovisual works or of newspapers by third parties without the proper remuneration of the author," he says. According to him, seeking copyrights on online platforms, which make content broadcast to a gigantic proportion, is "a very heavy burden" for content producers.

But rather than making platforms accountable, the directive mandates that online services use filters to prevent their users from uploading content that infringes copyright and to sign contracts with producers to use the content. On the other hand, it puts some exceptions, like cases of parodies and memes, for example. Both in Europe and in Brazil, platforms are only liable if they are notified by the copyright holder and do not act to exclude infringing content, says Curvello.

According to the president of APL Audiovisual de Londrina and Region, Guilherme Peraro, small producers of audiovisual content have difficulties to find a "window" to display their products, which have a high cost of production. "We are very restricted to cable TV and some participation on the Internet, but without regulation. You may even have a paid YouTube account on Vimeo, but your penetration in this market is very small. And when it does, it's pirated. Pirated movie that goes to the torrent network and you do not see the color of the money. And we are talking about a product of more than $ 1 mi that would have to have this display window. "

The directive in the European Union will apply to Brazilian content producers that have their content reproduced in the member countries of the EU. However, it is too soon to know whether the measure in Europe will have repercussions in Brazilian law, says the lawyer. "It's not a legislative priority. I do not see a movement of change now. The moment is to observe how it will be in Europe. But by the nature of the evolution of the Brazilian market, in which more and more people are using online platforms to consume audiovisual content, inexorably, will fall into the lap of the legislature to update the rules. "

Matéria published in the newspaper Folha de Londrina, read in html