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Internet news aggregators relieved over proposed EU copyright changes

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In a move that will come as a relief to internet news aggregators such as Google News and the Huffington Post, the European Parliament has confirmed in principal the rules to be covered under the European Copyright Directive. The proposed reforms, which have been two years in the making, are still subject to final review but in draft form they would appear to assuage news aggregators who feared that they may face copyright legal action or other penalties for displaying short pieces of content – known as ‘snippets’ – from other, third party sources.

The most contentious part of the proposals that deal with the use and publication of news ‘snippets’ come under articles 11 and 13 of the draft legislation. The Article 11 wording now indicates that news aggregators can freely share ‘snippets’ of news articles, provided they do not ’abuse’ this right and that the snippet is ‘very short’. This contrasts with the original proposals which indicated that aggregators would need to obtain a licence to share such snippets. The original proposals suggested they have to obtain a licence first.According to the agreement, the uploading of protected works for purposes of criticism, quotation, parody or caricature has also been protected.

Kathy Berry, a lawyer at Linklaters, said the changes are likely to mean that internet news aggregators will be able to maintain their current business model and therefore Article 11 'no longer has any real teeth’. She added:

If article 11 does not require news aggregators to compensate press publishers, it is not clear what it will, or is intended to, achieve in practice”

The general feeling seems to suggest that it will be up to the courts to decide whether news platforms and aggregators have made ‘best efforts’ to avoid copyright infringement and what ‘very short extracts’ are excluded from the new press publishers’ right under article 11.

Do you to take legal action over a copyright issue?

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