In the next few days, European legislators meet to decide on a final text of the European Copyright Directive, and Google is concerned about its "unintended" consequences.
Specifically, the Article 13 of the European's Parliament version of the Copyright Directive would hold internet services directly liable for any copyright infringement in the content that people share on their platforms. Kent Walker, Senior Vice President for Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer at Google, says that
"the draft rules aren’t carefully balanced, and would harm the thriving creative economy in Europe, including YouTube’s creator community."
He says that companies that act reasonably in helping rights holders identify and control the use of their content shouldn’t be held liable for anything a user uploads, any more than a telephone company should be liable for the content of conversations.
"The final text should make it clear that rights holders need to provide reference files of content, and copyright notices with key information (like URLs), so that platforms can identify and remove infringing content," he says.
The Article 11 calls for showing only URLs, very short fragments of headlines, and no preview images in news search results. Walker says that the move would make it harder for consumers to discover news content and reduce overall traffic to news publishers.
"Instead of a sweeping rule banning the use of even “individual words” or “very short extracts” without a specific contract, Article 11 should permit the sharing of facts and the use of traditional limited previews—whether text-based snippets or other visual formats like thumbnail photos—which provide needed context for web users," Walker says.
"We call upon policy makers to listen to their ideas, and to find a solution that promotes rather than limits the creative economy," Walker added.