YouTube and other internet platforms are not normally responsible for copyright infringement on videos and other files shared by users. The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled today. However, if social network operators knowingly contribute to the dissemination of protected works, they could also violate the law, the highest body of EU justice added.
The Court emphasized that the verdict applies “in the current state of Union law”. However, this is likely to change in the coming years, as the EU is currently negotiating to increase the overall responsibility of the platforms proposed by the European Commission last year.
A judge in Luxembourg has been approached by a German court, which is hearing two lawsuits against YouTube, owned by Google, and the Swiss company Cyando, whose Uploaded service allows you to upload and share files. According to rights holders, in both cases, the platforms broke the rules and should pay compensation.
The EU court has examined the cases in the light of the three directives on copyright, electronic commerce, and intellectual property. The judges concluded that the platforms were not responsible for infringements because they did not actively contribute to the distribution of protected works. On the contrary, according to the court, they could be blamed if it could be proven that they “know and control the content uploaded to their platform”.
“This is especially the case when this operator is specifically aware of the unlawful disclosure of protected content on its platform and does not immediately remove or block such content,” the court said in a press release on the verdict. According to the court, platforms could also be held liable if they did not sufficiently technologically prevent the general dissemination of copyrighted works that they know or should know about.