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YouTube wins user copyright struggle in EU Supreme Court ruling

After the European Supreme Court stated that online platforms were not responsible for users uploading unauthorized works, Google’s YouTube won its latest copyright infringement challenge unless the platform failed to act quickly to delete or block access to the content.

This case marks the latest development in the long-running struggle between Europe’s $1 trillion (approximately Rs 74.3509043 crore) creative industry and online platforms, the former seeking to remedy unauthorized uploads.

This is also part of a broader debate on how much online platforms and social media should take to regulate the release of unauthorized, illegal or hateful content. EU regulators are formulating new strict rules on this issue, which may take effect next year. .

The European Court of Justice stated: “For now, the operators of online platforms will not, in principle, disseminate to the public copyrighted content that users of these platforms illegally publish online.”

“However, these operators did engage in such exchanges in the case of copyright infringement, and they made contributions not only to make these platforms available, but also to make the content accessible to the public,” the judge said.

The European Court of Justice stated that if the platform does not adopt appropriate technical tools to solve users’ copyright infringement, or they provide tools for illegal sharing of content on the platform, they may also be liable.

In response to the court’s ruling, a YouTube spokesperson said: “YouTube is a leader in the copyright field and supports rights holders to get the compensation they deserve.”

“This is why we invest in the most advanced copyright tools, which create a whole new source of revenue for the industry. In the past 12 months alone, we have paid US$4 billion (approximately 297.731 billion rupees) to the music industry ), more than 30% of which comes from monetized user-generated content.”

After the music producer Frank Peterson sued the company and Google in Germany in 2008, YouTube was in a difficult situation.

In the second case, the publishing group Elsevier took legal action against Cyando, a German document hosting service, because its users uploaded several Elsevier works on its Uploaded platform in 2013 without its approval.

The German court then sought advice from the European Court of Justice, which ruled on the two cases on Tuesday.

The existing EU rules exempt YouTube and its peers from such liability for copyrights when they are notified of infringements and delete them.

Last year, the European Union undertook the first comprehensive reform of copyright rules in 20 years to help its creative industries by adopting a key clause called Article 17. This requires YouTube, Facebook’s Instagram and other sharing platforms to install filters to prevent users from uploading copyrighted material.

But this has aroused criticism from civil rights organizations, who fear that authoritarian governments may conduct censorship and threaten freedom of speech.

Some EU countries have not yet translated EU laws into national legislation, partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The European Commission has also proposed a broader digital services bill, which imposes strict obligations on large online companies, online platforms and hosting services, and imposes fines of up to 6% of company revenues for violations.

This will apply to websites, Internet infrastructure services and online platforms such as online markets, social networks, content sharing platforms, application stores, and online travel and accommodation platforms.

The draft rules need to be discussed with EU countries and EU legislators before they can become law, possibly next year.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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