Latest news in the section of photography copyright law! The European Parliament has approved a new EU Directive. Find out how it may impact you as a photographer and active content creator. Make sure you take proper care of image protection and your photo rights. 

copyright directive


Let’s start with a short introduction into the legal process of the new Copyright Directive:

First, the new directive has to be approved by the Council. Next, published in the Official Journal of the European Union, then all of the new rules need to be implemented by all the Member States within 2 years. Directives are not legally binding in a direct way – national laws are supposed to be changed and implemented in such a way to meet the new requirements.

This time, the European Copyright Directive caused more controversies than changes. It was the first update to the EU copyright rules for almost 20 years (2001). But do not get the wrong impression, it has not been neglected but discussed for a couple of years already. We examined the details and changes from the new directive and wrote you a short recap.

Here are some of the most pressing issues:

  • Hyperlinks to news articles, followed by  “very short extracts”, can be shared freely but WHAT EXACTLY IS A “VERY SHORT EXTRACT”?*
  • Big web portals shall take responsibility for the content uploaded by users but WHAT NAMES ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
  • Popular memes or GIFs are now excluded from the directive

* It remains unclear, why EU legislature decided for a technologically-specific term ‘hyperlink’. Instead of something more neutral, like ‘clickable link’ or ‘Internet link’.  Picking such a terminology raises a question whether the directive excludes from its scope only ‘hyperlinks’ or other types of ‘clickable links’ as well…


Some of you might be running a blog where you post your pictures, share some photography tips or information about workshops. If you do not want to have trouble with Article 11, you should be careful with the links whenever you write a new post. If a given link would contain more than a “short excerpt” from the original story or its headline, it can be banned. New articles in the discussed directive have quite a high level of ambiguity though. The 11 does not define what a ‘snippet‘ is and leaves it to each country for interpretation. The best practice over here would be to probably just add your own comments.


The usage of the content on social media platforms became an issue recently. This is also widely covered in the new Copyright Directive. Once the stolen content is published on one of the popular social media platforms such as: Instagram, Facebook, Google News or YouTube, not only the person who uploaded the content can be held liable but also the service or platform.

Those who voted in favour of the new directive say it will finally bring more balance to the discrepancy between American tech giants and European content creators. It will surely lead to better remuneration deals for the rights holders’ of certain copyrighted pieces than it is now. When the companies are not liable for the content which their users share. Sceptics see it as a potential limitation for innovation and sharing content. But both GIFs and memes were excluded from the directive so that they can be shared as comments to form of expression of different world views.

european copyright law


Despite protecting content producers’ rights, there are some points in the new directive which may actually harm photographers. The directive is supposed to boost the cutting edge research and teaching.  So the copyright restrictions will not apply to content used for it. When it comes to preserving cultural heritage. If there is no management organisation which could issue a license,  the out-of-commerce pieces of work can be also freely used.


Article 17 (known as article 13 in the draft) revolves around online services and the way the content uploaded online should be examined. According to the Article, filters (usually very expensive) which allow for checking if the published content does not abuse copyrights, are not required. However, without them, infringements will surely not diminish. That means that even more of your pictures might get stolen! We are already anticipating more findings.

European Union copyright sets out financial damages for all the creators whose copyrights are infringed. However, in accordance with Article 17, they are not entitled to claim anything if their posts get censored. There is a risk from the big companies, such as Facebook which may, even by accident, block a percentage of posts. Then, it is quite possible that they will make these users wait for a long time to be screened. In such a case, Article 17 does not guarantee protection for content creators.


As the arguments above show, the implementation of the new directive is quite controversial. It already brought a lot – and may still bring some more – long discussions in the media world. Surely, putting more responsibility on big American platforms is good news. Now, if Facebook or Instagram uses your picture without your consent, you can sue them. At PhotoClaim, we make sure to follow all the important updates and stick to our mission to fight against image theft. Now we get back to work and search for new findings to process for you.

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