Article 13, informally known as the ‘Upload Filter’, is one of two controversial components of the Copyright Directive, a new copyright legislation proposal meant to overhaul the European Union’s copyright law.
The infamous article calls for platforms to actively curb the sharing of copyrighted material. Firstly, it holds the platforms accountable for any infringement and mandates them to take appropriate action; secondly, it calls for the implementation of automated systems that can detect such occurrences.
Opponents to the article were quick to point out that it would impossible for machines to differentiate between plagiarized work and work that falls under fair use, and that implementing such processes would greatly stifle online creativity.
On June 20, 2018, the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs approved the proposal. The proposal needed further voting by the European Parliament to become a directive. But on July 5, the vote was postponed after the majority of the Parliament favored further discussion and potential amendments to the proposal. This is great news for content creators, but not everyone is happy about it.
Fingers Pointed at Google
Chris Castle, a high profile lawyer and a music industry veteran, recently called for a criminal investigation over the postponement, claiming that internet search giant Google was behind an intimidation campaign on the European Parliament. Specifically, he said that there “have been incredible and probably illegal uses of the Internet to overwhelm elected officials with faux communications that reek of Google-style misinformation and central planning in the hive mind of the Googleplex.”
His call follows an earlier attack by UK Music CEO Michael Dugher, in which he claimed that the search giant had pumped $36 million into lobbying against the legislation.
Castle made a vague reference to how he believes Google has sought to influence the legislative process, namely saying that Google had engineered “DDOS-type stunts capitalizing on what seems to be the element of surprise,” which, according to TorrentFreak, is a reference to “the numerous automated web-based forms that were made available online by various organizations, which enabled the public to make their voices heard by the decision makers about to tackle Article 13.” These forms were used to send many messages to MEPs.
“The European Commission needs to launch a full-blown criminal investigation into exactly what happened on Article 13,” Castle concluded.