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France says EU Commission approach may compromise copyright rules

European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium August 21, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - France, among Europe’s most lavish patrons of culture, cinema and literature, has criticised the European Commission over how it plans to apply landmark copyright rules that pit YouTube and Instagram against the creative industries, saying its approach may weaken the rules.

The criticism, following accusations from Europe’s creative industries earlier this month that the EU executive is rewriting the rules, could prompt a change in the Commission’s guidance.

Adopted last year, the copyright directive is the first revamp in two decades and seeks to provide a better balance between the bloc’s $1 trillion creative industries and their 11.7 million employees and tech giants using their works.

The EU executive had sought feedback from rights holders and online sharing platforms on how to apply in practice a key provision called Article 17, which forces Google-owned GOOGL.O YouTube, Facebook's FB.O Instagram and other platforms to install filters to prevent users from uploading copyrighted materials.

The Commission’s approach where exceptions are made for some internet users, would weaken Article 17 and rights holders and allow infringing content to stay online, France said in its feedback to the Commission, seen by Reuters.

“Through the de facto creation of a new, broadly expanded, field of application for exceptions, and the simultaneous restriction of unauthorised acts of sharing likely to be subject to preventive measures, the recommended approach would radically compromise the effectiveness of article 17,” France said.

The EU executive has previously said it wants to strike a balance, taking into account legitimate uploads by users.

Internet activists have dismissed rights holders’ concerns, saying that the Commission and EU countries must implement safeguards for users.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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