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Article 17

What you need to know about Article 17: Part Two, The Debate

Amadea Choplin

This is the second installment of a three-part blog series on Article 17. Miss the first blog? Catch up on “The Issue.”


With the June 7th implementation date just weeks away for Article 17 of the EU’s Directive on Copyright, it’s crucial that digital platforms, rightsholders, and creators are aware of this landmark legislation and what it means for them. In fact, France just adopted the ordinance transposing Article 17 of the Copyright Directive. The French text stays close to the original terms of the Directive, which is why it’s important to understand Article 17 and its implications.

Article 17 aims to better protect copyrighted works, namely songs and videos, that are uploaded to social media platforms without the rightsholders’ permission or knowledge. This user-generated content drives millions in revenue for platforms, but rightsholders have struggled to get a fair piece of the pie. While the intentions of Article 17 are good, critics of the text worry about free speech and the death of UGC (content uploaded to social media platforms by users). 

In our free Article 17 starter kit, we cover the text in detail, including the debate over these new obligations. Here’s a snapshot of what’s included in the “debate” portion of the starter kit.

Article 17: The Debate

What do Article 17’s critics worry about most?

There are two issues that critics view with apprehension. First, even though Article 17 states that its application shall not lead to any general monitoring obligation, it’s important to note that many platforms already use content recognition mechanisms voluntarily because it’s the most economical and effective solution to existing copyright requirements. So the new requirement to put in place content recognition technology will not change much for users in practice. If anything, it should bring about more clarity to those who upload videos by operating this ownership check prior to the upload, so that users don’t face takedowns hours or days after distribution. 

Another concern is the overblocking of UGC. Critics worry that platforms’ new liability for infringing content may lead to an abundance of caution with UGC to prevent being sued by powerful rightsholders. This is why robust user safeguards are so important, as already stressed by the European Court of Justice. The most important of those safeguards is access to an effective and impartial dispute resolution process for UGC creators, which Pex includes with its Attribution Engine, so users’ rights are protected, too.

Is Article 17 censorship? Does it erode free speech?

No. Article 17 has no impact on creators’ ability to publish their own content. In fact it strengthens copyright exceptions that underpin free speech and political expression, such as parody and caricature. Newer types of creative statements such as memes and GIFs will also probably fall within the scope of exceptions and limitations.

Will this be harmful to user-generated content (UGC) and social media?

The guiding principle behind Article 17 is to incentivize platforms and rightsholders to license more content, which could actually help UGC flourish by giving users access to a wider catalog of copyrighted content to use in their videos.


Download our starter kit to dive deeper.  We’ve included a summary, detailed FAQ, glossary, and compliance checklist for platforms. 

Stay tuned for our final installment, covering how Article 17 will be implemented. 

Prepare for Article 17 with Pex

At Pex, we build products that identify and license the use of copyrighted material online to help social media platforms targeted by Article 17 attribute and compensate rightsholders, while providing a better experience for their creators. We include ALL compliance aspects of Article 17 in our groundbreaking product, Attribution Engine, which serves as licensing infrastructure for platforms and indemnifies them from Article 17’s requirements. 

Interested in working with Pex? Contact our team at [email protected] for more information on how we can help you be prepared for Article 17.

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