Today, Shapeways joined with a number of other online platforms to submit a letter to the European Parliament. The letter raised our collective concerns about new online copyright proposals that the Parliament is currently considering. Specifically, we are concerned that a new proposal would erode or eliminate the safe harbors that allow online platforms like Shapeways to serve our users.
This proposal is in Article 13 of the proposed Digital Single Market Directive. As you may recall, online platforms such as Shapeways operate within what is known as a copyright safe harbor. That safe harbor allows us to trust that the content uploaded by our users does not violate anyone else’s copyright interest until and unless we hear from that anyone else. In the USA, this safe harbor is part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or DMCA (we’ve been talking about the DMCA in a slightly different context here, and you can learn how the DMCA process works in practice on Shapeways here). In the EU, it is part of the E-Commerce directive.
As originally written, the proposed Article could impose an obligation to create some sort of new copyright filtering technology, report the activity of our users to large rightsholders, and give large rightsholders control over what kinds of new services are created.
Fortunately, the EU policymaking process is a process, which means that the initial proposal is not necessarily the final version of the rule. Since the release of the original proposal, various committees have proposed changes and suggestions to the text.
While some of these proposals are improvements (for example, recognizing that users of online platforms are key stakeholders in the rules that govern online platforms), we are still skeptical that the changes are necessary at all. That is why we conclude our letter by urging policymakers to maintain the integrity of the safe harbors that have allowed so much creativity to flourish.
The Parliament now moves into a deeper discussion phase. We will continue to monitor the discussion, and provide updates as they become available.