EU copyright reform will spell disaster for sports fans
A lot has been written about the danger the planned EU copyright reform poses for freedom of speech online, for memes and remixes, for software developers and startups. But there’s an_other group that would be badly affected_ by the planned law if it is adopted as currently drafted: Sports fans across Europe.
What upload filters mean for sports
As you may have heard, Article 13 would establish “censorship machines” that surveil all your posts on internet platforms and scan them for supposed copyright infringement. If these filters don’t approve your upload, it will never go online.
Upload filters would prevent any video using even the shortest snippets of sports broadcasts from seeing the light of day: Commentary,
The Best Goals In Football History • Episode 1
, sports-related memes (like Neymar rolling) and other valuable fan works will be blocked automatically.
Filters can’t tell whether your use of such a snippet (e.g. a 3 second video of a particularly interesting goal) is permitted under a copyright exception – such as the one for quotation or parody – or not. To avoid legal responsibility, platforms will err on the side of caution and block everything that may be an issue. You’ll need to manually fight through an appeals process for even the most perfectly legal posts.
But it’s in combination with a new, extra copyright, which some in the European Parliament are pushing for, that upload filters could really get nasty:
A new copyright for sports events?
Without any prior discussion of the issue, the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament narrowly voted to demand that a new article be added to the reform bill:
Article 12 a
Protection of sport event organizers
Member States shall provide sport event organizers with the rights provided for in Article 2 [reproduction]and Article 3 (2) [making available] of Directive 2001/29/EC and Article 7 [fixation]of Directive 2006/115/EC.
In plain English:
In the EU, sports event organizers shall have exclusive rights to reproduce, make available or record their events.
This new right would make it illegal to take snapshots of or film e.g. a football match from the audience, with your own phone or camera. Fan vlogs, selfies in the stadium, documenting choreographies would all be caught by this proposal.
This right would give clubs and leagues an unprecedented amount of control over what fans can do in the stadium. They could choose to selectively enforce this right to e.g. suppress reports of protests or bully inconvenient fans.
Wikipedia would need to remove hundreds of images of stars and players taken at sports events.
It’s unclear which problem it is supposed to solve. Sports broadcasts are already protected by the related right for broadcasting, where sports organisers sell the exclusive right to show the live games in a given country to broadcasters. These rights already create huge revenues for the organisers of premium sports. Fans spreading their own recordings of their personal experience – often hours after the matches have ended – only serves to promote a sport or team.
If we look beyond the big football leagues, there are a lot of sports that desperately need coverage and exposure and struggle to get it. This new right would make it even harder for them to get any attention as any exposure would automatically be blocked by filters. Sports administrators who desperately want people to see the sport and its main players and discussion points will find they get even less exposure, even in markets where there is no demand for the sport (think cricket in continental Europe or Handball in the UK).
Save fan culture
Fans are what makes sport valuable in the first place. Premium sports are premium because a lot of people are passionate about them – this new right would be a _blatant attack on sports organisers’ greatest supporter_s by making it harder for them to keep up with even the most basic parts of the sport.
The European Parliament will vote on this law on September 12. If you’re unhappy with the draft, call your MEP today using the free tool at http://saveyourinternet.eu/en/feed/ and ask them to vote against upload filters and additional copyrights for sports event organisers. It takes just a minute, and it’s your representatives’ job to listen to your concerns!- - - - - -