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EU court to consider YouTube copyright infringement case

By Don Jacobson
EU court to consider YouTube copyright infringement case
The Court of Justice of the European Union Tuesday was set to consider a closely watched allegation of copyright infringement against YouTube. EPA-EFE/JOHN G. MABANGLO

Nov. 26 (UPI) -- A European Union court was set Tuesday to consider a case in which it is being asked to decide if Google Inc.'s YouTube platform can be held liable for acts of copyright infringement committed by its users.

The case before the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg is being closely watched for possible ramifications on social media, especially in light of a new EU directive in which tech platforms such as YouTube and Facebook are being required to strike licensing deals with rights holders such as media companies for uploaded content.

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The current case, referred to the EU from the German courts, concerns a 2008 suit brought by a music producer who contends copyrighted audio material of a recording artist's work was not removed promptly by YouTube after a complaint was made.

Google contends it is not liable for copyright infringement perpetrated by the uploader under the "safe harbor" provisions of the EU's former e-commerce directive in which such video-sharing platforms are considered "passive." As such, they are not considered to be "communicating copyrighted materials to the public."

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The complaint, however, challenges that interpretation, claiming YouTube is not a passive platform and so is liable for damages to the copyright holder.

The EU court's decision will likely be viewed as an indication of the bloc's future direction on social media copyrights in light of Article 17 of the new Digital Services Act, which was adopted by the European Parliament in March. It calls for a stricter licensing regime between tech platforms and content producers.

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