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What the new EU copyright law means for open source

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OSS
Legal

The global open source community was able to breathe a small sigh of relief as the controversial and, at times, bitterly opposed European Union's (EU's) Copyright Directive was finally approved last week. Some last-minute amendments a few weeks before the vote resulted in open source software development being left relatively, but not wholly, unscathed.

In its earlier iterations, the EU copyright proposal, specifically Article 13, made content-sharing platforms directly liable for copyrighted content that users upload. This, in effect, made it mandatory for software code sharing platforms to monitor all content that users upload for potential copyright infringement. The proposal was primarily aimed at music and video streaming platforms rather than software code but the wording was so broad that software code, and developing and sharing platforms like GitHub, Software Heritage, GitLab, GNU Savannah and SourceForge, would be caught in the net.

With the whole premise of open source software being the free and open sharing of code, the open source community was appalled. Several campaigns were launched to push back. The Free Software Foundation Europe and OpenForumEurope joined forces on a campaign, Savecodeshare.eu, to garner support for opposition to the proposed directive.

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