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What is Article 13? The EU's copyright directive explained! (All In Description)

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The final version of a controversial new EU copyright law has been agreed after three days of talks in France.

Google has been particularly vocal about the proposed law, which it says could "change the web as we know it".

Article 13 of the EU Copyright Directive states services such as YouTube could be held responsible if their users upload copyright-protected movies and music.

In a few weeks, MEPs will vote to decide whether it becomes law.

The EU last introduced new copyright laws in 2001. The EU says it wants to make "copyright rules fit for the digital era", but not everyone agrees with the proposed changes.

If the UK leaves the EU with a deal, and the directive becomes law, it would apply to the UK during any transition period.

What is Article 13?
Article 13 is the part of the new EU Copyright Directive that covers how "online content sharing services" should deal with copyright-protected content, such as television programmes and movies.

It refers to services that primarily exist to give the public access to "protected works or other protected subject-matter uploaded by its users", so it is likely to cover services such as YouTube, Dailymotion and Soundcloud.

However, there is also a long list of exemptions, including:

non-profit online encyclopaedias
open source software development platforms
cloud storage services
online marketplaces
communication services
What does Article 13 say?
Article 13 says content-sharing services must license copyright-protected material from the rights holders.

If that is not possible and material is posted on the service, the company may be held liable unless it can demonstrate:

it made "best efforts" to get permission from the copyright holder
it made "best efforts" to ensure that material specified by rights holders was not made available
it acted quickly to remove any infringing material of which it was made aware
These rules apply to services that have been available in the EU for more than three years, or have an annual turnover of more than €10m (£8.8m, $11.2m).

Article 13 says it shall "in no way affect legitimate uses" and people will be allowed to use bits of copyright-protected material for the purpose of criticism, review, parody and pastiche.

Social media: How can governments regulate it?
European Parliament backs copyright changes
What are the concerns?
Image copyrightREUTERS
Image caption
YouTube is a vocal critic of Article 13
Critics say it would be impossible to pre-emptively license material in case users upload it.

German MEP Julia Reda suggested services would have to "buy licences for anything that users may possibly upload" and called it an "impossible feat".

Article 13 does not force companies to filter what users are uploading, although critics say companies will be left with no choice.

YouTube already has its Content ID system, which can detect copyright-protected music and videos and block them. But critics say developing and implementing this type of filter would be too expensive for small companies or start-ups.

Others have warned that algorithms often make mistakes, and might take down legitimately used content.

"Filters will subject all communications of every European to interception and arbitrary censorship if a black-box algorithm decides their text, pictures, sounds or videos are a match for a known copyrighted work," said a blog by online rights group EFF.

Article 13 does say services must put in place a "complaint and redress mechanism" so that
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