Disappointment rang out from many quarters in the wake of the European Parliament’s decision to soften two important metrics in the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) – how quickly the access to stolen live content should be disabled; and Article 14(3), to allow content to remain available until its legality has been assessed.
Hosting providers won’t be required to “expeditiously” remove or block content that is suspected to be infringing – and allows them to leave reported content available until its legality is assessed.
The Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAPA) quickly issued a statement, that “the EP position represents a dangerous step back which would have strong detrimental effects on the whole audiovisual industry if it was adopted by co-legislators,” and urges legislators to reverse course before the DSA’s final adoption “to ensure that ‘what is illegal offline, is illegal online’.”
In a further blog post, AAPA was “deeply concerned that legislators have failed to grasp the importance of removing content immediately – particularly where live pirated content is concerned,” and that rights-holders don’t issue takedown requests casually. AAPA Executive VP Sheila Cassells also questioned the logic as to why the Parliament would want “to consider whether the users of the service would have their ‘fundamental rights’ to access pirated content impaired by its removal!”
The Association of Professional Football Leagues has expressed strong disappointment in decisions. Also known as The European Leagues, the 38-member organization complained that “the EP position fails to deliver on the removal or disabling of access to illegal live content during a live broadcast. This issue plagues for the organisers of professional football competitions across Europe as we rely on the economic value of our live media rights,” according to a prepared statement.
“This is really hurting the live content of our Member Leagues, where every second counts and no interpretation or assessment is needed as content is fingerprinted and/or watermarked. To put it bluntly, this new article would unfortunately and literally help piracy of live content spread even more across the European Union,” said Alberto Colombo, Deputy General Secretary of the European Leagues.
Read the full statement by The European Leagues, which identifies the clauses at issue.
Why it matters
The Parliament’s apparent position runs counter to recommendations adopted in May 2021, which recognized the importance of sports and sports culture in Europe, recognized that illegal distribution is both harmful to the sports industry and to end users subjected to cyber-attacks by pirates – and recognized that takedowns of pirate instances should happen within 30 minutes of a report.
Sports content is among the most valuable content made availble through broadcast and online, and often, its value is fleeting as a match progresses. Pirates will not act on takedown notices if enforcement is perceived to be lax. In addition, many deals made under the premise of exclusive distribution are undermined by piracy.