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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter analyses the evolution of a trend towards the imposition of proactive monitoring obligations on intermediaries along the entire spectrum of intermediary liability subject matters and focuses on the recent EU copyright law reform. Article 17 of the newly enacted EU Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market has come under fire for the heightened level of liability it imposes on online services providers (OSPs) for copyright-infringing content stored or transmitted by them. Based on an analysis of case law from multiple jurisdictions and an overview of industry practice, this chapter seeks to locate the new European reform within a much wider global trend that aims to impose proactive monitoring and filtering obligations on OSPs. It argues that the impetus for the introduction of Article 17 is rooted in the ‘internet threat’ discourse and reflects a gradual shift in the perception of OSPs from being ‘mere conduits’ to ‘active gate-keepers’ of content uploaded and shared by users. Following an evaluation of the extent to which Article 17 diverges from the existing intermediary liability framework in the EU, the chapter concludes by analysing its potential impact on users’ fundamental rights and freedoms, particularly in the light of its propensity to motivate wider use of automated filtering systems and algorithmic enforcement mechanisms.

Keywords: monitoring, filtering, case law, copyright, trade marks, privacy, speech, copyright reform, digital single market, article 17

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