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A 'map of the internet' produced in 2005: The European Commission is hoping to harmonise the procedures for dealing with copyright infringement throughout the EU. Wikimedia Commons

Brussels launches EU-wide public consultation on internet copyright enforcement

The public questionnaire identifies three main problems with current takedown procedures, and wants public thoughts.

THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION has kicked off an EU-wide public consultation on the issue of online copyright, ahead of possibly introducing new EU-wide rules on the matter.

The public consultation specifically deals with the presence of illegal content on a website, and how website hosts should be notified about its presence.

The questionnaire specifically identifies three major failings with the current regime of how a host is notified about illegal content being kept on their facilities – the legal uncertainty surrounding 27 different legal regimes, the lack of clear rules and identifiable procedures, and the potential for abuse where legal content is the subject of a take-down request.

Current EU directives – specifically the E-commerce Directive under which Ireland was forced to introduce new legislation earlier this year – include exemptions for ‘intermediary service providers’, and provide that web hosts can not be held liable for hosting illegal content if they are unaware of its presence, and if they act “expeditiously” to remove it.

The Commission is now seeking the input of all stakeholders in order to address the shortcomings in the current system, which the Commission says will assist it in bringing forward new initiatives on the ‘notice-and-action’ procedures which now exist.

The questionnaire will remain open until September and can be accessed here.

A similar consultation being run by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation on Ireland’s copyright laws remains ongoing, with submissions accepted until mid-July.

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