YouTube has scored a major legal victory after the Advocate General of Europe’s highest court said that it is not responsible for others who illegally upload copyrighted material.
The opinion by Advocate General Saugmandsgaard Øe looks likely to have a major bearing in the wider debate of whether big social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook can be classified as ‘publishers’.
According to the Advocate General, “as EU 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”.
“Otherwise, there would be a risk of platform operators becoming judges of online legality and a risk of ‘over-removal’ of content stored by them at the request of users.”
This does not apply, the Advocate General, said, in situations where the service provider has actual knowledge of illegal activity or information or is aware of facts or circumstances from which the illegal activity or information is apparent.
But otherwise, “platform operators such as YouTube and Cyando may, in principle, benefit from the exemption from liability... for the files they store at the request of their users,” the Advocate General’s statement said.