What Marketers Need to Know about the New EU Copyright Directive

copyright directive

The 26th of March 2019 will remain a milestone date in the history of the internet. This is the day when the European Union adopted the strictest digital copyright rules to date. As we will show you below, these new rules will affect everyone who seeks and shares content on social media.


What Does the EU Copyright Directive Change?

The European Union had not updated its digital copyright laws in about 18 years before now. The old regulations did not take into account the power of social media to disseminate content – with or without the author's’ permission.


What really impacts the way social sharing will change are Article 11 and Article 13 of the EU Directive. They state:


  • Article 11 – the snippets of content, such as the first paragraph displayed under a link shared on the social media, will be subject to permission and licensing by the copyright holder;

  • Article 13 – all social media platforms (Facebook™, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram) and even search engines like Google will have to apply stricter rules in monitoring potential copyright infringements.


In other words, the platform owners become responsible for whatever is shared on social media and are forced to turn into copyright watchdogs.


How Will This Change Digital Marketing for You?

The crux of this issue largely depends on how social media platforms and Google will respond to the new regulations. As they are huge entities, they will seek the path with the least friction and least risk of liability. This means that they have three options to choose from:


  • Least likely: prepay for content sharing. This would mean setting up a system of fees to be paid out to media agencies, studios, and content creators to cover any kind of content sharing;

  • Moderately likely: reduce their presence in the affected territory. This would mean a restriction of service to people in the EU in terms of content availability;

  • Highly likely: setting up content filters. These filters would check for copyright infringement at the moment when users try to upload/share something and reject copyrighted materials.


What Kind of Content Is Subject to the New EU Directive?

The list of items is too wide to cover in this article, but it is safe to state that it will cover every kind of media you usually post on Facebook™ and other platforms: text, audio, photo and video files.


However, the Directive states that “some” content will still be allowed to be shared freely. It includes GIFs, memes and news snippets. Also, there is an exemption provided for a start-up online media companies – they will have lighter obligations with regard to copyright monitoring.


The Devil Is In the Details

However, the main issue that will affect you will be the way social media networks will configure their copyright filters. For example, someone demonstrating a yoga technique with copyrighted music in the background will have their video banned from sharing, because of the music. Or, if you wear a printed t-shirt containing copyrighted material (a logo, a registered trademark), you may find your photo rejected by the copyright filter.


On the other hand, if you do not set up licensing rules for Google and the social media for your own content, you will find your distribution network significantly diminished. Your content may not show up anywhere in Europe because you did not give your consent for sharing.



At the moment, we are in the very early days after the adoption of the EU directive on digital copyright. Most likely, the European Parliament will offer social media platforms a reasonable period of time to change the way they allow users to upload and share content. Most likely, each platform will update its terms of use and will notify its users of how they will be affected in this respect.


As soon as there are significant developments on this topic, we will let you know.