While intermediary liability limitations as enshrined in section 230 CDA and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act are the subject of controversial debates in the United States, the European Union has recently all but abolished its safe harbor for certain online platforms in the context of copyright infringements. The new Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market will enter into force in the summer of 2021, and it may change online communication far beyond Europe's borders. In order to avoid liability, some social media platforms will soon have to meet high requirements of attempting to negotiate licenses with rightsholders and automatically blocking access to copyrighted works. The new rules have sparked huge protests, with hundreds of thousands of Europeans taking to the streets against mandatory upload filters. As one of the negotiators of the new copyright bill and its most vocal critic, former Member of the European Parliament Julia Reda will reflect on the effects the new copyright directive will have on freedom of speech globally.
Julia Reda was a Member of the European Parliament from 2014 to 2019. She is currently visiting Harvard Law School as a research fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. Her research focus is on the regulation of online platforms, especially in the context of automated copyright enforcement. As Member of the European Parliament, she was Vice-Chair of the Greens/EFA group and a co-founder of the Parliament’s Digital Agenda Intergroup (digital caucus). As rapporteur for the review of the 2001 copyright directive, she advocated for a European copyright that is adapted to the digital era, which is easy to understand and enables the free exchange of culture and knowledge across borders.