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Communications of the ACM

Legally speaking

The EU's Controversial Digital Single Market Directive

EU filter, illustration

Credit: Alicia Kubista / Andrij Borys Associates

The stated goals of the EU'S proposed Digital Single Market (DSM) Directive are laudable: Who could object to modernizing the EU's digital copyright rules, facilitating cross-border uses of in-copyright materials, promoting growth of the internal market of the EU, and clarifying and harmonizing copyright rules for digital networked environments?

The devil, as always, is in the details. The most controversial DSM proposal is its Article 13, which would require online content-sharing services to use "effective and proportionate" measures to ensure user uploads to their sites are non-infringing. Their failure to achieve this objective would result in their being directly liable for any infringements. This seemingly requires those services to employ monitoring and filtering technologies, which would fundamentally transform the rules of the road under which these firms have long operated.


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