“Today’s ruling sets an important precedent for the protection of freedom of expression online. Nevertheless, it does not go far enough. The European Court of Justice does not completely rule out the use of upload filters to enforce copyright on online platforms. At least, however, the court confirms what civil society has been emphasizing for years: upload filters are unable to reliably distinguish between copyright infringements and legitimate forms of free expression such as parodies or quotations. It is therefore right that the highest court limits the use of upload filters under Article 17 of the EU Copyright Directive to uploads that constitute manifest infringements, such as uploads of entire movies.”
When the EU copyright reform was passed in 2019, over a hundred thousand people took to the streets against it. And rightly so: Article 17 of the EU Directive mandates the use of upload filters, which regularly lead to lawful content being blocked on online platforms. This threatens freedom of communication on the Internet.
“This ruling shows that the few Member States who have introduced specific safeguards against the blocking of lawful content have taken the correct approach. For example, Germany and Austria have excluded the use of upload filters for certain types of uploads, such as short excerpts from protected works of less than 15 seconds in length. Other Member States that have dispensed with clear protections for fundamental rights will now have to make improvements. The Society for Civil Rights will be watching closely to see if the German Copyright Service Provider Act complies with the standard of protection set by the European Court of Justice and will prevent unlawful blocking of lawful content. Otherwise, we will seek legal action to enforce the fundamental rights of platform users. We will also coordinate with civil society groups in other Member States to support them in efforts to overturn national implementations that fail to protect users’ freedom of expression.”
With the control © project, the GFF is committed to promoting freedom of opinion, freedom of information and freedom of the press where those freedoms stand in tension with copyright law or the protection of trade secrets. Further information on the project can be found at:
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