European lawmakers still hearing conflicting demands over safe harbor in Copyright Directive

European leaders are hearing continued pressure to create stronger solutions in securing the safe harbor clause. The latest move centered on a number of groups that lobby on digital rights sending a letter to Parliament calling for the clause to be eliminated from the draft of the European Copyright Directive.

Safe harbor laws are designed to protect online platforms from liability when their users upload material that infringes on copyright. YouTube is a frequent focus in discussions of safe harbor rules. They allow the video platform to host clips that might contain licensed audio or video without holding YouTube legally responsible for those copyright infringements. This issue has been a hot topic in the music industry, as many performers, publishers, and other professionals have argued that YouTube’s existing tools are not enough to easily manage infringements on the site. YouTube, on the other hand, usually points to its Content ID tool, which has posted high rates of accuracy in identifying copyright material, and says that it should be enough.

The safe harbor critics are not unopposed. An organization called European Digital Rights also sent its own letter to the European Parliament claiming that the safe harbor article should be strengthened and secured. There have been questions about whether companies would have to infringe on individuals’ rights in order to enforce the rule under the existing language, and imprecise wording in the law could place unmanageable burdens on companies when it comes to filtering user uploads. The Electronic Frontier Foundation shared its opinions on those subjects in the legislation.

The draft Copyright Directive has been in circulation at Parliament for more than a year. At this stage, it is unclear if or when the European lawmakers will move forward with the Directive.

Anna Washenko