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Copyright reform: Upload filters alert European startups

In an open letter entrepreneurs from 16 countries warn of drastic consequences. The startup association renews its criticism.

No legislative proposal is currently shaking waves like the EU’s copyright reform, which the European Parliament is due to vote on next week. For Saturday, demonstrations are planned in numerous cities – in addition to net activists and Youtubers now also start-ups beat loud alarm. “The success of our business is seriously endangered by these cumbersome EU regulations,” says an open letter that Nextcloud founder Frank Karlitschek has published today and reported on netzpolitik.org first.

The letter, which should have been sent to all EU parliamentarians, has initially signed more than 130 companies and associations from 16 European countries. Among them are many entrepreneurs who, like Karlitschek, work on products designed to protect the privacy of users. Alan Duric, co-founder of Wire and Till Faida, CEO of Adblock Plus developer Eyeo, is on the list.

Expensive filter

In particular, Article 13 of the proposed directive worries entrepreneurs. It’s about user-generated content. Internet platforms could be made directly liable for copyright infringement of their users in the future. In the opinion of lawyers, they are therefore forced to use so-called upload filters to block content that involves unauthorized copying.

Civil rights activists therefore warn against automated censorship, while start-ups fear that they will not be able to invest in the necessary technical infrastructure. The filter mechanisms are too expensive for most companies and prone to error, it says in the open letter published today. Although there should be exceptions for small businesses. But these are tight: The offer must be less than three years, the annual turnover below ten million euros and the number of monthly visitors may not exceed five million on average.

Association sees the digital single market at risk

Most recently, the CDU had announced that it would not want to impose so-called upload filters in the transposition of the EU Directive into national law. Instead, platform operators should make lump-sum license payments to rights holders and recyclers. The Federal Association German Startups considers this the wrong way. “It’s better to avoid bad laws at source, rather than trying to doctor about any consequences without obligation,” commented Florian Nöll, chairman of the startup association, in a statement released today. The association also points out that a “national special interpretation of European directives” counteracts the goal of harmonizing European standards and creating a “Digital Single Market”.

The Article 11

The second major issue in the reform is Article 11, which is intended to strengthen publishers analogously to German ancillary copyright. According to this, license fees would also be due for small sections of journalistic content. This would meet, among other services such as Google News, but also links with bloggers textresses would be affected”. Start-ups that aggregate online information with their services would lose their business fundamentals – and any company that publishes summaries of press releases would violate the law,” warns Nextcloud founder Karlitschek.


Also published on Medium.

Published inStartups

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