In recent years the European Commission has proposed and adopted various legislative changes to help combat online piracy.
This includes the Copyright Directive which passed last year as well as the Digital Services Act, which was officially unveiled last December.
These laws will have a significant effect on how online services respond to copyright infringement complaints. However, according to some, upload filters and other broad enforcement tools don’t go nearly far enough.
Next week, the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament will vote on a draft resolution that goes a step further. The proposal in question is superficially tailored to deal with pirated live sports streaming, which is a thorn in the side of major sports leagues.
30-Minute takedown Window
According to the draft, prepared by rapporteur Angel Dzhambazki, sports event organizers face significant challenges in the digital environment due to piracy. To help combat this problem, online services should remove infringing content as soon as possible, within minutes of an event beginning.
Specifically, this means that current legislation should be updated to “specify that the removal of the illegal content should take place immediately after reception of the notice and no later than 30 minutes after the event started.”
According to some EU lawmakers, this proposal doesn’t go far enough and several compromise amendments have been negotiated to make the language even stronger. This includes the use of “trusted flaggers,” who may act on behalf of copyright holders.
These takedowns could be sent to streaming services such as YouTube, but they may also be targeted at hosting providers. A similar system is already in play in the UK, where sports streams can be taken down in real-time, with proper court approval.
No Court Order Needed
The EU proposal doesn’t necessarily require judicial oversight and will involve more parties. This is something sports organizers will welcome, but it opens the door to overblocking as well, which occasionally happens in the UK too.
The proposed resolution is not welcomed by all Members of Parliament. Patrick Breyer, MEP for the Pirate Party, says that he and his fellow members of the Greens/EFA Group will vote against it.
“This text reads as if it had been dictated by lobbyists in the rights holders industry, it threatens fundamental digital rights,” Breyer says.
Shorter Takedown Window Than Terrorist Content
According to Breyer, the Digital Services Act should be sufficient to deal with online copyright infringement issues. The new proposal is overbroad and excessively burdensome to online services, he adds.
“A 30-minute deletion requirement would be shorter than is foreseen for terrorist content, and outside of business hours it would be much too short, especially for small and non-commercial providers.
“Allowing private interest groups with self-interest to have content removed without review by a court would foreseeably lead to an excessive blocking of legal content as well,” Breyer adds.
Breyer informs TorrentFreak that he had submitted an amendment that called for the deletion of the new legislation. That would be the best solution in his view.
“There is no need for the specific legislation on sports streams the resolution calls for. The existing means and instruments are more than sufficient,” Breyer says.