Article 13: Copyright Protection

Posted on 9/20/2018 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

All photographers around the world who are trying to control and earn money from their work should watch, very carefully, what the European Parliament does with Article 13 of its Copyright Directive. The final EU decision could greatly benefit all photographers whether they live in the EU or not.

Tech industry leaders, like Google and YouTube, strongly oppose this legislation, because it could force them to use automated content filtering systems to insure that copyrighted material is not being distributed without permission on their platforms. The law states that digital companies should put "effective content recognition systems" in place.

On September 12th, despite massive controversy, and after over 100 amendments, the European Parliament voted in favor of the Copyright Directive with 438 yes votes, 226 no votes and 39 abstentions. The Directive must go to a final vote in January 2019.

Article 13 calls on internet giants to take "appropriate and proportionate" measures to prevent user-generated content that infringes a rights holder's copyright.” And would require tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Twitter to filter copyrighted material such as songs, images, and videos uploaded on their platforms, unless they were given directly licensed permission to do so. This would range from memes using stock photography to music videos, remixes, and more.

There Is A Simplier Solution

For still imagery and illustration Google could easily set up a system like the Image Creator Locator I have outlined here, here and here. The ICL t could solve most of their problem. But the tech companies are fighting to keep from doing anything.

Those who want to use others work should be required to check the Google ICL site first to determine if using the work requires permission. If it is included in the ICL collection of copyrighted work, then there should be a link enabling any potential user – individual or small organization – to easily determine if compensation is required, of if certain free uses are permitted.

Dealing with the issue for video, songs and text may be a more complicated, but I’ll let the tech giants find a solution for those problems.

The tech giants want everyone using the Internet to be totally fee to spread any meme, regardless of whose property they might use, or the truth or falsehood of what they have to say, because the tech giants make their money by selling ads that are attached to every piece of content produced. For them, the more the merrier.

    An Internet meme is a concept or idea that spreads "virally" from one person to another via the Internet. An Internet meme could be anything from an image to an email or video file; however, the most common meme is an image of a person or animal with a funny or witty caption.

    Examples of memes include beliefs, fashions, stories, and phrases. In previous generations, memes typically spread within local cultures or social groups. However, now that the Internet has created a global community, memes can span countries and cultures across the world. Memes that are propagated online are called "Internet memes."
Critics say the Article 13 will spell the end of the meme, and affect smaller entities harder than major players, as they will be required to sweep material in the same way as multibillion-dollar corporations. But, if an organization like Google sets up an efficient system for visually checking images it should take no more than a minute or two for any user to determine if an image is free to use.

Others worry that “copyright trolls” will tirelessly monitor the web for activity that could infringe on the new laws. But, if most users make a minimal effort to obey the law, they should have no problems. The goal is to make it easy for everyone to do the right thing so there will be minimal need for “copyright trolls,” or “pursuing infringers.”

Some users worry about “Free Speech,” but free speech doesn’t give anyone the right to use another persons property as if it was their own.

The tech companies are worried that they will be “forced to use filtering systems that block copyrighted content,” but if they set up a system enabling consumers to “filter” content that could eliminate the need for blocking content and leave the transaction up to the user and the content creator.

Copyright © 2018 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


  • Piotr Jaczewski Posted Sep 24, 2018
    As a creator and someone who earn on photography, but mainly as IT specialist, I can tell you that this legislation is total BS. It won't protect any of your work, but you will have a lot of problems with it in personal and professional life.

    Reason for this is simple, such filtering will be very hard and virtually impossible in the real world. Even best filters working now on a limited amount of data are very ineffective, there's no option to tell with 100% accuracy that we have exact same photography and not similar photos shot by two photographers in similar conditions. And there's no and there will be no central database of photographs, what will make this even harder. This law may be only for some big players in the industry, in a similar way like it's now on youtube for example. Where they can provide a library of their assets to the service provider for filtering. But this works bad and have problems with it on 100% legal content. Because filters are dumb.

    For example, imagine your shot of Eiffel Tower (or any other landmark) with clear sky in the back - how many shots look similar? Thousands, hundreds of thousands? Do you know how such filters will work? They will block all of them. So, this law designed and inspired by a small group of big fish in industry, will lead to a block of your content, with you won't be able to upload to Instagram, FB, or whatever service you may think. Don't count on contacting support of any of those services, it's now almost not possible, not to mention a large flood of support requests from other desperate users.

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