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School of Law

SOLM266 Research Seminar: Platform Liability and Copyright Law (C21)

The advanced research seminar will focus on current problems of platform liability for copyright infringement in the European Union and (partially beyond). The seminar will take place in Term 3 (June 2022).

The seminar is open to all students with a dedicated interest in copyright law willing and motivated to conduct individual research. There will be space for (up to) 17 participants. The main idea is to provide a forum for presentation of individual research and discussion. You can find a list of topics below.

The focus of the seminar is on the highly topical issue of platform liability for copyright infringement committed by users, and specifically on the problematic implications of the new liability regime foreseen under Article 17 of the EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. Under Article 17, certain platforms will incur direct liability for acts of right of communication to the public committed by users. The new liability regime has attracted much criticism as it will – depending on national implementation – almost inevitably necessitate technological blocking of content. A plethora of legal problems – including, centrally, foreseeable frictions with “user rights” and fundamental rights more generally – ensue. The aim of the seminar is to provide a discussion forum on these issues.

The seminar is organised as follows:

  • Interested students should select at least THREE topics from the list below. The topics are tentative and may be altered, for example by including a comparative angle. I am open to individual proposals.
  • There will be a selection process and I will allocate topics (generally) on a first come, first served basis.
  • You will need to apply as places are limited. Therefore, you should choose an alternative module in case in case you have not been selected.
  • Please note that you cannot take both this module and the dissertation option.
  • Please email applications to me ( until October 2021 (specific date tbc). Please include a short statement why you are interested in participating and a short (one page) CV.
  • We will be meeting with all participants in October 2021 for general questions (in person, if possible). I will provide specific guidance on individual topics.
  • You are asked to conduct research on your topic individually – there will be no further supervision.
  • Before the seminar, please submit your paper to me (date to be confirmed, probably beginning June 2022).
  • In the seminar, you are expected to present your research for around 15 minutes to allow time for discussion and feedback. The final version needs to be submitted in August 2022.

List of Topics (tentative):

  • The Hosting Privilege under Article 14 E-Commerce Directive and its shortcomings
  • Previous Standards of Liability and the Freedom to Conduct a Business under Article 16 EU-Charter after Scarlet Extended and UPC Telekabel
  • Criteria for liability and the notion of platforms after Google v Peterson: more chaos or necessary flexibilities?
  • The right of communication to the public and its extension to direct platform liability: the nature of Article 17 DSMD
  • The notion of “implied consent” in copyright and its limits
  • Protecting technological solutions: TPM protection as a precursor to upload filters?
  • Platform liability and blocking: the US fair use clause
  • The Canadian “user generated content” clause
  • Algorithmic fair use? Can automated decision making respect user freedoms?
  • The right of quotation in the context of online uses
  • Parodies and pastiches as exemptions under Article 17 (7) DSMD – an empty promise?
  • The problem of de minimis uses after Pelham v Hütter
  • Can exploiters rely on the three-step test where authors are remunerated?
  • Upload filters or payments to authors: should (or could) a compulsory license be imposed on economic exploiters?
  • Private decision making: problems concerning complaints and redress mechanisms with regard to disclosing user data
  • Freedom of expression and the chilling effect of liability on user creativity: the relationship between Article 17 and the right to (artistic) self-determination
  • The relationship between economic objectives and fundamental rights in the EU legal order – a fundamental concern of Article 17 DSMD?

Applicable groupings

All LLM programmes

Mode of Assessment

  • 10,000 word research paper
  • 15-20 minute oral presentation


30 Credits