Article 13 of the EU Copyright Directive – A “War on Memes”?
The European Commission has been pushing forward proposals for a new law which could significantly limit the use of copyrighted material online. The proposed law is part of a larger set of reforms aimed at creating a Digital Single Market in the EU.
Article 13 of the draft Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market – approved by the European Parliament on 20 June – has come under particular scrutiny due to its potential impact on freedom of speech. The law would require websites to monitor all content (including that which is user-generated) and “take measures to ensure the functioning of agreements concluded with rightholders”. Such measures may well mean the implementation of strict copyright checks – such as content recognition and automatic filtering technologies – across social media platforms such as Facebook and Reddit.
Various media sources have decried the outlawing of memes as a potential effect of the new law on social media. Memes can be created by anyone and frequently employ either text, images or videos extracted from copyrighted material which is then deployed in the context of a contemporary problem or issue. Memes have become ubiquitous across social media platforms and are used, for instance, as powerful political satire: after all, an image can vividly express something either without, or using fewer, words. Under the new Article 13, the individual whose original copyright material it is may have grounds for complaint against a social media platform that allows it to be used without his or her permission.
The new law has already sparked a lively debate, with many high-profile figures such as World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales signing an open letter to the European Parliament. They argue that Article 13 presents an “imminent threat” to the future of the internet and potentially violates the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. UN Special Rapporteur and UCI law professor David Kaye also argues that the law would violate the freedom of speech, while also acknowledging the need for regulation and copyright protection.
In Article 13 the EU has crafted an ambitious legislative agenda for the Internet. The real test will be the interpretation of what constitute appropriate measures to protect rightholders, and how these measures will be implemented across the entire spectrum of social media platforms, from tech giants to SMEs and start-ups.
An Assessment to Tax is never ‘stale’, but it might be out of date: HMRC v Tooth
This article briefly discusses the key points arising out of the decision of the UK Supreme Court in HMRC v Tooth  UKSC 17. The case considered (1) whether a discovery assessment could become “stale” and (2) the meaning of the phrase “deliberate inaccuracy”.
VATA 1994 s.47, Agency, Onward Supply Relief, & Double Taxation
On 12 July 2021, the First-tier Tribunal (Tax Chamber) (“FTT”) released its decision in Scanwell Logistics (UK) Limited v HMRC  UKFTT 261 (TC), rejecting the taxpayer’s claim for onward supply relief (“OSR”).
Whilst OSR is now limited, post-Brexit, to goods imported into Northern Ireland for onward supply to the EU, the FTT’s discussion of agency under section 47 of the Value Added Tax Act 1994 (“VATA”) is of broader interest.
The case serves as a reminder of the significant financial consequences that can result from errors in tax planning, as Scanwell was ultimately held liable for £5.7 million in unpaid import VAT despite the fact that the imported goods almost immediately left the UK (which, if properly planned, could have meant Scanwell was relieved from liability to import VAT).
Draft Finance Bill 2022—tax avoidance measures
Helen McGhee, senior associate at Joseph Hage Aaronson LLP, considers the draft Finance Bill 2022 clauses published on 20 July 2021 in relation to tax avoidance and recent updates to the tax avoidance regime.
Getting Closer: A Global Minimum Tax on Corporations
On 1 July 2021, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced that countries representing over 90% of global GDP had agreed to a global minimum tax on corporations (“GMCT”). The GMCT seeks to put a floor on tax competition on corporate income through the introduction of a minimum corporate tax of at least 15%. Whilst certain elements give rise to positive expectations, some caveats should be noted. Much will depend on (1) the outcome of future political negotiations and (2) the detail of the drafting at international and national levels.
The DBKAG & K (CJEU) decision: an opportunity for investment funds?
On 17 June 2021, the European Court decided the joint cases K (C-58/20) and DBKAG (C-59/20) regarding whether the supply of certain services constituted the “management of special investment funds”, benefiting from the VAT exemption enshrined in Article 135(1)(g) of Council Directive 2006/112/EC.