Brussels (Brussels Morning) US tech giant Google’s YouTube social media platform has won a copyright infringement challenge at the EU Court of Justice (CJEU).
The bloc’s top court stressed that online platforms are not legally answerable for user uploads of unauthorised works if they quickly censor the content, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
The ruling resolves the legal battle between YouTube and the EU’s creative industry, which had called for the redress of unauthorised uploads.
The issue is part of the broader debate about online platform censorship. EU regulators are discussing new rules for hateful, illegal and unauthorised content on platforms that could take effect in 2022.
The European Commission-proposed Digital Services Act to rein in tech giants and online platforms requires approval by the EU Parliament and by member states before it can come into force.
“As [it] currently stands, operators of online platforms do not, in principle, themselves make a communication to the public of copyright-protected content illegally posted online by users of those platforms”, the CJEU pointed out.
At the same time, the court stressed that online platforms must put in place the tools to crack down on copyright breaches or face legal consequences.
“YouTube is a leader in copyright and supports rights holders being paid their fair share”, a YouTube spokesperson stated, commenting on the ruling.
“That’s why we’ve invested in state of the art copyright tools which have created an entirely new revenue stream for the industry”, the spokesperson noted. “In the past 12 months alone, we have paid US$ 4 billion to the music industry, over 30% of which comes from monetised user-generated content”.
According to current EU rules, online platforms are not liable for copyright violations of their users provided they remove content when warned of the violations.
Civil rights groups warn that censorship rules could be abused by authoritarian governments and represent a threat to freedom of expression.