Tech Giants Warn US Govt. Against EU’s ‘Article 13’ Plans

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The CCIA, which represents global tech firms including Cloudflare, Google, and Facebook, is warning the U.S. Government against the EU's copyright reform plans. According to the tech giants, Article 13 could result in significant economic consequences for the U.S. digital economy, with a possible ripple effect on the rest of the world.

Under President Trump, the United States has worked hard to put several new trade deals in place.

The administration is also working on a new trade agreement with the EU for which the US Trade Representative recently asked the public for input.

This week the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which includes Amazon, Cloudflare, Facebook, and Google as members, sent in its thoughts.

The submission includes a stark warning against the EU’s proposed copyright reform plans, including Article 13, which could open the door to upload filtering.

It’s no secret that the proposal is a topic of intense debate within the EU. The tech companies, however, warn the US Government that its effects may hurt the US economy as well.

The CCIA cautions that the proposed changes could increase liability for large Internet services by weakening the safe harbor protections provided by current EU law. At the same time, it will be at odds with the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions.

“The proposed Copyright Directive disrupts settled law protecting intermediaries by weakening established protections from U.S. Internet services in the 2000 EU E-Commerce Directive, and by imposing an unworkable filtering mandate on hosting providers that would require automated ‘notice-and-stay-down’ for a wide variety of copyrighted works.

“If adopted, the Directive would dramatically weaken these long-standing liability protections, which suggests that most modern service providers may be ineligible for its protections,” the CCIA says.

The tech companies note that EU officials have identified US companies as the intended targets of these proposals. They fear that the plans will result in implicit upload filter requirements.

“Under Article 13 of the proposal, the Directive now implies that online services must procure or develop and implement content recognition technology. The decision to compel affirmative filtering of all Internet content, including audiovisual works, images, and text, based on that content’s copyright status, is alarming and profoundly misguided.”

According to the latest proposals, Article 13 would not impose a general monitoring requirement. However, it may require Internet services to ensure that infringing content is not reuploaded, which is hard to achieve without automated filters.

The CCIA points out the lack of specifics as another concern. It’s not clear what measures hosting providers and other services will have to implement in order to be safe, they argue.

This uncertainty and the incompatibility with US law is troublesome for the tech companies. They hope that the US Government will keep these concerns in mind while negotiating a new trade deal.

The final text of Article 13 is still being drafted. The latest trilogue meeting will take place later this week. The CCIA cautions the US to keep these developments in mind, noting that they have the potential to harm the US economy.

“The text is currently under negotiation in trilogue. If the final EU reform does include these provisions, there would likely be a corresponding increase in risk for U.S. platforms doing business in the EU, resulting in significant economic consequences for the U.S. digital economy, which depends on the EU market.

“Furthermore, there is likely to be a ripple effect on the rest of the world, given the EU’s international influence,” the CCIA submission adds.

This is only one side of the argument, of course. The RIAA also submitted comments to the US Trade Representative, presenting a different picture.

While the music group doesn’t mention Article 13, it does caution against “overbroad provisions on copyright safe harbors” and the “lack of online platform accountability,” two issues the EU’s copyright reforms aim to address.

A copy of the CCIA submission is available here (pdf), and the RIAA’s submission can be found here (pdf).


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