In the first half of July, the European Parliament approved the proposal for a directive on copyright in its first reading, a directive known in particular for the controversial Article 13, to which, however, some modifications were made compared to the much-criticized version proposed earlier in the summer.
In the context of Article 13, providers of data storage services were initially required, inter alia, to introduce a measure to monitor the content stored by users, which obligation has been criticized for colliding with the prohibition of active monitoring as defined in the eCommerce Directive (2000/31/EC).
While the newly approved text lifts the obligation to monitor directly the content stored by the user, the draft directive now assumes licensing agreements to be concluded with the right holders. Given the criticism of this provision, however, this obligation will not apply to small sized enterprises and microenterprises, online encyclopaedia or cloud service providers whose content is not publicly available.
We can only speculate about the practical impact of the directive on neutral data storage providers, who, for both technical and legal reasons, cannot actively monitor the content of the data stored by the users of their services. Even if data storage providers had such technologies in place, it could be very difficult for them to judge in real life which file, for instance, formally contains copyrighted work created by which author, i.e. whether at all and with whom the provider should have concluded a licensing agreement, as stipulated in the proposal for the new copyright directive.
It should also be noted that the amended text is now scheduled for discussion in the Council; we are thus not facing the final adopted text of the directive quite yet. Still, it clearly indicates the mood at the European level regarding the relationship between data storage providers and copyright holders.