Online Platforms Not Liable for Copyright Infringement If Had No Prior Knowledge – EU Court

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Digital platforms, such as YouTube, can be exempt from liability for copyright infringement by their users under certain conditions, according to the decision of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, published on Tuesday.

The EU Court has been handling a number of cases related to complaints from copyright holders for the publication of content in violation of their IP rights. The original lawsuits include one by a German music producer, who filed a complaint against YouTube and Google for publishing music he owns, and one by a German publisher against the hosting service Uploaded.

According to the decision, under the current legislation operators of online platforms are not considered as active participants in “communication to the public” of copyright-protected content, as it is posted online by users.

“In that regard, the Court finds that such an operator can benefit from the exemption from liability provided that it does not play an active role of such a kind as to give it knowledge of or control over the content uploaded to its platform,” the document said.

At the same time, the Court specified that exemption from liability is possible only if the platform had no prior knowledge of the copyright infringement and did not willingly facilitate the distribution of illegal content. Rightholders can obtain injunctions against operators of online platforms in cases when they notified the service and the latter failed to “intervene expeditiously in order to remove the content in question or to block access to it and to ensure that such infringements do not recur.”

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