European Union Law Briefing


Google responds to planned Copyright Directive

The Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, also known as the EU Copyright Directive, is a proposed directive which intends to ensure a 'well-functioning marketplace for the exploitation of works and other subject-matter', paying particular attention to 'digital and cross-border uses of protected content'.

First introduced on 20 June 2018, the directive was approved by the European Parliament on 12 September 2018 and is currently passing through formal 'trilogue' discussions, which, as the name might suggest, involves tripartite dialogue between the EP, the Council and the Commission.

While the EU has maintained that their goal is to foster a harmonious relationship between content creators, digital platforms and internet service providers, some aspects of the proposed directive have proven controversial - namely Article 13.

This article would place an obligation on ISPs to prevent the unauthorised re-using of content, however it is feared that this will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression because the implementation of such a regime would necessitate the deployment of 'content matching software' which would identify and automatically ban users in breach of the Article. This is worrying, as such software would undoubtedly be AI-led, and as such would not be capable of recognising satire or parody. 

In a response issued this month entitled Together for Copyright, Google have warned that as it stands, the directive would force them to 'start choosing which content to include and which to exclude', which would 'likely benefit larger publishers and restrict the flow of traffic to smaller ones'.

They rightly point out that copyright, even in the physical world, is not a cut and dry concept. They put forward the example of the 'global music hit Despacito', which is the product of several pieces of copyright. The uncertainty created by the ambiguity inherent in Article 13 means that Google might be forced to block videos like this, to ensure that they avoid liability under Article 13. 

To date, over 4.5 million people have signed a petition, asking legislators to reconsider certain aspects of the directive in the hopes that the revenue stream provided to independent creators by YouTube and other similar revolutionary services can be safeguarded alongside the IP rights which the EU are rightly eager to protect.


Summary of Statutory Instruments

The most recently enacted statutory instruments giving effect to European directives are as follows:



Former Garda behind world's largest maritime drugs bust

According to a report in the Irish Times from 5 February, close to ten tonnes of cocaine were seized in a single haul aboard the ship, Eser, which was on its way to Morocco from South America and was ultimately bound for Europe. Eleven Russian nationals aboard the ship were arrested after it was forced to dock at Cape Verde. 

The bust was spear-headed by former Garda, Michael O'Sullivan, whose agency - the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre - is the first line of defence against the cocaine trade in Europe. It is estimated that February's haul has a street value in the region of 800m, an amount that is so big that 'several transnational organised crime groups' would have fed off it. 

Read the report in full here.




Note: This article is not intended to be relied upon as legal advice. Any errors should be notified to the editor and will be dealt with accordingly.


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