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.
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.
Raising the bar: UK Supreme Court clarifies the requirements for HMRC to issue Follower Notices
On 2 July 2021, the Supreme Court delivered its judgment in R (on the application of Haworth) v HMRC  UKSC 25, finding unanimously in favour of the taxpayer and upholding the Court of Appeal’s decision to quash the follower notice issued to him.
The Danish Supreme Court decides the Fidelity case
The Fidelity case concerned claims brough by three undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities (UCITS) for the repayment of Danish withholding tax on dividends received from companies resident in Denmark between 2000 and 2009. The Supreme Court rejected the claims on the grounds that the Fidelity UCITS did not fulfil the conditions for the exemption provided by Danish law.
A yellow card for footballers and their agents……let’s bring in another match official
There has been long running tension between HMRC and the way that footballers and their agents are remunerated. As the Professional Footballers’ Association wade into the debate, Helen McGhee discusses the problems arising from agents’ fees and image rights.