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Web platforms not liable for copyright infringement: ECJ advocate general

Kampala, Uganda | XINHUA | The video-sharing platform YouTube and its parent company Google cannot be held liable when users upload copyrighted content there, Advocate General Henrik Saugmandsgaard Oe at the European Court of Justice said on Thursday.

“As EU (European Union) law currently stands, online platform operators, such as YouTube and Uploaded, are not directly liable for the illegal uploading of protected works by the users of those platforms,” Saugmandsgaard Oe said in his non-binding opinion.

According to the advocate general, platform operators such as YouTube and Cyando do not carry out an act of “communication to the public” themselves in such cases.

“The role played by those operators is, in principle, that of an intermediary providing physical facilities, which enable users to carry out a communication to the public. Any ‘primary’ liability arising from that ‘communication’ is therefore borne, as a rule, solely by those users,” he said.

He was expressing an opinion on two cases about copyright infringements. The first is a dispute between “Frank Peterson, a music producer, and YouTube and its parent company Google before the German courts regarding the uploading to YouTube, in 2008, of several phonograms to which he claims to hold various rights.”

The material, which was uploaded to YouTube by users without Peterson’s authorisation, consisted of tracks from the album “A Winter Symphony” by the artist Sarah Brightman and private sound recordings made during her “Symphony Tour” concerts.

In the dispute giving rise to the second case, the publishing group Elsevier brought proceedings against Cyando, also before the German courts, regarding the uploading to its file-hosting and file-sharing platform Uploaded, in 2013, of various works to which Elsevier holds the exclusive rights.

Saugmandsgaard Oe also proposed that the court rule that, irrespective of the question of liability, rights holders may obtain injunctions against the operators of online platforms, which can impose their own obligations.

Saugmandsgaard Oe’s opinion is not binding on the Court of Justice but advocates general are asked for their opinions on the cases assigned to them. The court will hand down its decision at a later date.

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XINHUA

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