“To make the EU’s single market fit for the digital age”, by “bringing down barriers to unlock online opportunities” was one of the priorities of the current European Commission. This objective would be reached by “improving access to digital goods and services”, creating “an environment where digital networks and services can proposer” and by “ensuring that Europe’s economy, industry and employment take full advantage of what digitisation offers”.
This objective raised the hopes of the tech industry, often struggling with 28 different regulations when trying to scale their operations across the European Union. Unfortunately, the legislative proposals published by the Commission for the past year have not lived up to the tech industry’s expectations. In short, after disappointing audiovisual and telecom proposals, the Commission’s proposal for a Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market marks the end of the Commission’s Digital Single Market ambitions.
With this copyright proposal, the European Commission has, in fact, bowed to the lobbying of legacy industries on four crucial issues, to the detriment of users’ fundamental rights, the growth of European startups, creativity and innovation.
Firstly, this proposal undermines the e-Commerce Directive, cornerstone of Europe’s digital economy, by implying that websites promoting or optimising the display of user generated content would fall out of the scope of the limited liability regime for intermediaries. In practice, most hosting websites created after 2000 would become liable for content uploaded by their users, thereby freezing innovation, free speech and investments.