Coalition of Rights Groups: Remove EU Safe Harbor Rules

coalition of international rights holders groups has formed a coalition to call on the new presidency of the European Council to find a solution to the “value gap," an issue for content creators perpetuated by the EU’s safe harbor laws.
 
Safe harbor laws in the EU are laid out in Article 14 of the E-Commerce Directive. Under this law, internet service providers (ISPs) cannot be held liable unless actual knowledge of infringement or awareness of facts or circumstances from which infringement is apparent exists. In the Google France case, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) held that when the activity of an intermediary such as an ISP is “technical, passive, or automatic”, this shows a lack of knowledge or awareness. If a service provider can point out that he has no actual knowledge or awareness, then they are not liable for infringing content that is posted onto their site.
 
This creates the value gap, where user uploaded content sites are distributors of creative works, while not negotiating copyright licenses with the content creators. This is a severe violation of the intellectual property rights of the creators, and the safe harbor rules create a loophole for sites to be able to avoid focusing on the protection of these rights.
 
The coalition of rights holders says that user uploaded content services disseminating content and creative works to the public should have to obtain copyright licenses for that content. They also argue that services that play an active role through the promotion or optimization of content should be denied safe harbor protections under copyright law.
 
As long as the current safe harbor loophole exists for user uploaded content services, rights holders will continue to be subject to inadequate protection of their creations, and unfair compensation. Only through repeal of the safe harbor provisions in EU copyright law can content creators stop the infringement of their rights on user uploaded services.
 
Photo Credit: European Parliament