Tech Companies Caution the US Against Threats Posed by Worldwide Copyright Laws

You wouldn’t be wrong to assume that every country in the world has enacted a form of copyright law. These laws are designed to fight copyright infringement and content piracy.

In the recent past, most countries globally have taken measures to tighten copyright laws. This was in an effort to curb the losses caused by online piracy. These worldwide copyright laws aim at protecting copyright holders. This is done by creating restrictions on Internet service providers that make it possible to access and share infringing material via the Internet.

Copyright holders have welcomed these worldwide copyright laws. They are quite happy with the developments. But on the other hand, major players in Silicon Valley together with other US-based technology firms perceive the new laws as a threat to their businesses.

In fact, just a few days ago, the CCIA and the Internet Association warned the USTR. This warning was about the threat posed by the increased focus on worldwide copyright laws to the industry.

The two groups sent stark warnings to the USTR. This was after they received a request to submit their comments before the Government could publish its annual report on foreign trade barriers.

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Increased Copyright Liability in the EU

Members of the CCIA include Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Cloudflare among other well-known tech giants. The organization has also listed a number of threats facing the tech industry. Some of these have to do with copyright issues.

One of the many problems online companies face is increased copyright liability. In the United States, companies providing online services enjoy some form of protection that exempts them from being held responsible for their users’ infringements. However, according to the CCIA, the situation is quite different now thanks to worldwide copyright laws.

The CCIA claims that many countries worldwide are increasingly applying old-fashioned Internet liability laws on intermediary companies. These are companies that have no involvement in the creation and distribution of content deemed to be illegal or objectionable. The laws are counteractive to the growth and sustenance of tech companies because they prevent investment and market entry of legitimate tech companies.

Countries where copyright laws have become an impediment to online services and operations include Germany, France, Italy, India, Australia, and Vietnam just to mention a few. For instance, in Australia, a number of US-based platforms are exempted from liability protections. CCIA states that this practice actually contravenes the Free Trade Agreement between the US and Australia.

The EU Copyright Directive

EU copyright

There is also the recently passed European Union Copyright Directive, which has become a key point of focus. The directive is yet to be implemented by most of the individual state members. But is already being perceived as a major threat to US tech firms and their users. The CCIA notes that the directive is a threat because the obligations described at the end of the text significantly go against the global norms of running a business.

The worldwide copyright laws will discourage US companies providing internet services from entering the EU market. This is because of the huge costs associated with compliance with the laws.

EU officials claim that the new laws will not have any negative effect on lawful user activities. This includes posting and sharing memes. But with limitations on reviews, criticism, quotation and parody as outlined in the directive, you cannot ignore the severe restrictions the laws will have on user activity.

The Internet Association has also voiced its warning against the EU Copyright Directive. The group, which includes leading names such as Google, Reddit, Microsoft, Twitter, and Spotify, claims that the plans are not in line with the US copyright law.

The EU directive conflicts the US law on copyright. It requires US companies and consumers to use filtering technologies and pay liability claims filed by European organizations for activities that are completely legal in the US. For example, US tech firms will now have direct liability for any third-party content in the EU.    

Conclusion

The association of online tech companies warns that if the US doesn’t protect its copyright framework abroad, these new worldwide copyright laws will adversely affect US-based innovators and online service exporters. All while other countries increasingly misuse the issue of copyright to limit market entry.

The Internet Archive and CCIA are both urging the government to pushing back against new developments in worldwide copyright laws.

What do you think of these new copyright laws? Let us know in the comments section!

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