Article 13 – scrap it!

by Jane Whyatt

The number thirteen is ’unlucky for some’ according to an old English superstition. And Article 13 of the new Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (DSMD) law currently under consideration will bring unlucky consequences, according to legal experts and media freedom campaigners.

Article 13 - scrap it! Professor Dirk Voorhoof is one of the first signatories

Activists  and libertarians from across Europe, USA and even including Bangladesh have published a letter of protest. National governments of Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany have tabled questions raising their concerns, too. And fifty-six of Europe’s leading law experts have published their opinion. 

The crux of the matter is that Article 13 upsets the balance of rights between users and creators which is supposed to be protected under Articles 8 (protection of personal data), 11(freedom of expression) and 16 (freedom to conduct a business) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.

Professor Dirk Voorhoof of the Universities of Copenhagen and Ghent is a member of MSI_NET committee that has spent two years drafting advice for the Council of Europe's Ministers on the role of internet intermediaries. He also a founding member of the ECPMF and one of the leading signatories of the letter. He comments:

“Sometimes it is hate speech, sometimes it is the fight against terror, then it is the need for personal data-protection, or national security, or the protection of minors. Now again restrictions on the free flow of information and filtering on the internet are claimed for copyright protection. These are all legitimate reasons to protect public and private interests and values in society. But this can never justify overbroad regulation and unjustified or disproportionate interferences with the right to freedom of expression.“

Voorhoof describes Article 13 and its Recital 38 as a ’disaster’ for online freedom of expression.

Echoing the legal experts’ concern, no less than 57 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) point out in a strongly worded letter that the Article 13 and its Recitals are likely to prove unworkable in practice, as well as unjust in principle:

If EU legislation conflicts with the Charter of Fundamental Rights, national constitutional courts are likely to be tempted to disapply it and we can expect such a rule to be annulled by the Court of Justice, 

You can read the full legal argument at the SSSN website 

The Council of Europe's expert committee MSI-NET has published this draft recommendation prepared for the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on internet intermediaries, .