Following the CULT and IMCO Opinions (see our blog posts respectively here and here) and the Report by the lead Committee of the EP on this matter, namely the Legal Affairs (JURI) Committee (see our blog post here), the last Opinion of the EP has now been published, namely the one by rapporteur Michal Boni of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE).
As often happens when a report is published last, it builds on all the views that are out there and, in the case of MEP Boni, tries to offer a pragmatic middle ground. In this case, the LIBE Rapporteur has limited himself to examining Article 13, aka the Censorship filter, as he considers this is a provision that needs to be looked at in light of its impact on the fundamental rights of users.
A lot of positive thoughts…though deletion would have been the best option
The Opinion clearly tries to ensure that the provisions of Article 13 do not disrupt the existing legal framework and established CJEU case law, whilst taking a technologically neutral approach and making sure users are not forgotten in this equation:
Room for improvement…especially considering deletion would have been the best option
But as always in the legal drafting arena, the devil is in the detail:
Conclusion: Hell is paved with Good intentions
Whilst it is clear that MEP Boni has, in the same vein as his colleague MEP Comodini Cachia, tried to bring back some common sense in this debate, it is a bit disappointing that the one Committee of the EP tasked with protecting the fundamental rights of users has not taken the only stance that makes sense from a principles point of view, which is to request the deletion of this ill-thought provision.
In our May 2017 open letter [PDF] to the Council and the European Parliament, C4C and 63 signatories reiterated this fact: ‘Article 13 should be removed from the copyright negotiations and dealt with in appropriate contexts. We strenuously oppose such ill thought through experimentation with intermediary liability, which will hinder innovation and competition and will reduce the opportunities available to all European businesses and citizens.’
But at least the intentions of MEP Boni are laudable, as are his efforts to remove the most toxic aspects of what the European Commission had put on the table. So for that, our thanks!
What others are saying
COMMUNIA – Last EP Committee opinion on copyright reform balances civil liberties with political reality