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YouTube not liable for illegal copyrighted works on its platform, EU court adviser says.

The Advocate General Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe of The Court of Justice of the European Union (CURIA) informed that Google’s YouTube and other online platforms are not liable when users upload illegal copyrighted works onto their platforms. Nevertheless, the right holders can require injunctions against the companies, requesting the exclusion of the irregular content.

In this regard, CURIA judges have followed such opinion in four out of five cases and will rule on this matter in the coming months. This matter is not new and has been debated in the last years, in order to define the liability of online platforms and social networks for illegal content or related to hate speech published by its users. For this reason, the European Commission aims to delimit this issue with new rules known as the Digital Services Act, at the end of this year.

According to the above mentioned Advocate General, online platforms and social networks are currently liable only when they are informed of the irregular content by the rights holders and do not remove them. Furthermore “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 that platform operators would become judges of online legality and risk of ‘excessive removal’ of stored content”.

It is worth remembering that by the Directive (EU) 2019/790 of the European Parliament on copyright in the Digital Single Market, providers need to obtain a rights license to make third-party works available on the Internet, under penalty of becoming responsible for the infringements that occur in their platforms, unless certain conditions are met, such as removing the content after receiving the rights holders´ communication and making better efforts to prevent them from being made available again.