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A summary of the events

Current: After negotiations on the reform after it had been halted since mid-January due to a disagreement between France and Germany, an agreement has now been reached. This provides for even more extensive obligations regarding upload filters than all previous drafts. Should this be implemented, the effects on all even the smallest European companies would be insurmountable and financially destructive!


The last reform of European copyright law was adopted in 2001, at that time still without taking the "new" possibilities of communication into account. The EU had failed to deal with the new circumstances. Platforms offered their users the opportunity to express themselves creatively and to exchange ideas. The result was an Internet culture of free sharing and the diverse confrontation with content of all kinds.

The film and music industries felt compelled to demand a legal framework for the protection of their work due to the free and partly illegal offer on the Internet. Newspaper publishers also saw themselves in an unstoppable downward trend. This problem gave rise to the controversial Articles 11 and 13.

It was not until February 2018 that the German coalition agreement between the governing parties CDU/CSU and SPD stipulated that so-called "upload filters" were not appropriate and should therefore be rejected. [1] These filters would not only be able to delete unwanted content retroactively, but would also be able to prevent it from being uploaded independently. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube would have to censor a lot of content!

However, in EU policy this rejection was simply ignored at the federal level. The reform that has been aimed at since 2016 has been further equipped with the demand for filters and, of all things, has been initiated at European level by the German CDU member of parliament Axel Voss together with the controversial "ancillary copyright law". In Germany and Spain, the already introduced ancillary copyright law is regarded as having failed because it did not produce the desired results. [2]
Rather, the study, which was initially kept under lock and key, came to the conclusion that "newspapers actually benefit from news aggregators in that the websites of the newspapers receive more visitors and thus advertising revenues increase", which directly contradicts the advocates of ancillary copyright.

The reform text came by a narrow majority from the EU Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market and was rejected in the first bill in Parliament. Improvements were called for and many changes, including good alternatives to filters, were tabled. In the second vote, the Parliament decided in favour of a reform in principle, although the directive was equipped with the sharpest versions.

It should be noted that many parliamentarians supported the reform on the basis of Articles 14-16, which are intended to strengthen journalists' rights vis-à-vis publishers and exploiters. The EFJ (European Federation of Journalists), together with the world's largest journalists' association, calls on the politicians to speak out in favour of a transparency regulation and to oppose the restrictions contained in Articles 11 and 13 (ancillary copyright, upload filters). [3] Our protests have also contributed to the fact that parliamentarians are now dealing more intensively with the topic and the so important details and feared consequences.

At the last meeting of government representatives on January the 18th, there was again no agreement on the two articles. On the contrary, they continued to lose popularity. Many parliamentarians now regret having voted for the reform in September. In addition to politicians from Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland and Slovenia, who voted against the articles in large parts in the last vote, Italy, Poland, Sweden, Croatia, Luxembourg and Portugal also voiced their concerns this time and advocated at least one exception for small companies with an annual turnover of up to 20 million. An exception that France in particular vehemently rejected. After Germany and France, in particular, failed to reach an agreement on this issue, the trilogue date set a few days later was cancelled for the time being. [4] However, this does not mean that the countries mentioned are generally against upload filters!

On February the 4th, a compromise was reached between France and Germany on the question of who should be obliged to use upload filters, thus putting an end to the negotiations. [5]

This compromise, however, can hardly be described as such, since it is almost exclusively geared to the demands of France and provides for the most far-reaching filter obligations for platforms that the reform has ever seen. Specifically, the "compromise" stipulates that profit-oriented platforms must fulfil all three of the following conditions in order to be exempt from a general filtering obligation:
1. the platform must be less than 3 years old
2. the annual turnover must be less than 10 million EUR
3. the platform must have less than 5 million users per month

In addition, all platforms, whether they meet the criteria or not, must prove that they have "made their biggest efforts" to obtain licences from all right holders whose content their users might be able to upload. In short, platform operators would have to license any copyrighted content ever created. Negotiation is out of the question, as "biggest efforts" means nothing more than rights holders being able to name any price - platform operators cannot refuse. The only way out would be extensive self-censorship with upload filters, which in turn would be expensive, technically flawed and an attack on freedom of information and opinion. Both options destroy the Internet as we know it.

The following detail deserves special mention:
The compromise is the result of a telephone conversation between France's President of the republic Macron and Chancellor Merkel. The CDU-led Chancellor's Office then actively intervened in the negotiations on the copyright reform, despite the rejection of all forms of upload filters, which CDU/CSU promised only in March 2018 in its coalition agreement with the SPD. [3] What is striking is that the German position was worked out by the SPD-led Ministry of Justice until it came to a standstill two weeks ago and was certainly Internet-friendly. In short, who betrayed us? The Christian Democrats.

Germany's position in the negotiations has so far been determined (by the Ministry of Justice) by the SPD and was also predominantly Internet-friendly. It was the interference of the CDU-dominated Chancellery that brought about the change.

We now hope more than ever that the German political leadership will reconsider the coalition agreement and reconsider its current position. A hope that was also expressed by the Federal Association of the Digital Economy. [7]

It can be assumed that the trialogue negotiations will now be resumed as soon as possible so that they can be concluded with the parliamentary vote in March or April. We therefore assume that the final trialogue negotiations will take place on Monday 11 February. We will, of course, keep you informed!

1] Coalition agreement rejects upload filter: (lines 2212-2214): "We reject as disproportionate an obligation of platforms to use upload filters in order to "filter" content uploaded by users for copyright infringing content."
2] Effects of ancillary copyright law:
3] Association of Journalists demands:
4] Again no agreement on copyright reform:
5] Agreement between France and Germany:
[6] Taken over by: Julia Reda on the unification of Germany and France:
7] Federal Association of the Digital Economy appeals to parliamentarians:


You can always get the latest updates on the reform on Twitter at (Julia Reda, Member of the EU Parliament)

Our own video (16.06.2018)

Link to video

Post by The Guardian (13.09.2018)

Link to website

Update by Julia Reda (MEP) on the status in the trilogue negotiations (24.10.2018)

Link to website

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