The copyright rules in the European Union are extremely complex and nuanced, as evidenced by a solid body of case law from the highest European court, the Court of Justice of the European Union. Many of the handling we currently do on social media rely on exceptions to copyright (such as parody or quotation) which are not identifiable by algorithms as they require ‘context’ (is this funny? Are you acting in a non-commercial manner? Did you use this for the purpose of criticism) and are not implemented in the same manner in each EU Member State.
Algorithms and Filters Have a Proven Track Record at Being Bad At Nuance
Creativity and free speech will be harmed by Article 13 because algorithms struggle to tell the difference between infringement and the legal use of copyrighted material vital to research, commentary, parodies and more. This is far too high a cost for enforcing copyright.
No filter can possibly review every form of content covered by the proposal including text, audio, video, images and software. Article 13’s mandate is technically infeasible and it is absurd to expect courts in 27 EU Member States to be constantly working out what the “best” filters might be.
Moreover, it is a bad idea to make Internet companies responsible for enforcing copyright law. To ensure compliance and avoid penalties, platforms are sure to err on the side of caution and overblock. To make compliance easier, platforms will adjust their terms of service to be able to delete any content or account for any reason. That will leave victims of wrongful deletion with no right to complain – even if their content was perfectly legal.
Finally, the proposed censorship machines are a disproportionate and ineffective ‘solution’ to the problem: this has been highlighted by the highest European Court, the Court of Justice of the European Union, in a decision called SABAM v Netlog (CJEU C-360/10), which ruled that social networks and other web hosting providers cannot be required to monitor and filter activities that occur on their sites to prevent copyright infringement. This would be a breach of freedom of expression and of privacy.