PROPHON with participation in the creative sector's common stance on the Digital Services Act project (DSA)

10 January '22

A total of 15 organizations representing the creative sector in Bulgaria have joined forces to express their disagreement with the changes of the Digital Services Act (DSA) proposed by the European Parliament and the European Council. The concerns of music, audio-visual, literary and visual authors, as well as performers, publishers, music, film and television producers and professional photographers are mentioned in an open letter to Bulgarian MEPs, the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Culture, and the Representation of the Republic of Bulgaria to the European Union.

The idea behind the original project of the Digital Services Act is the fight against illegal online content through imposed rules for a safer online space. However, according to the Bulgarian creative sector, the changes proposed by the European Parliament and the European Council would hinder the achievement of this goal and would even create a less healthy digital environment.

The points that are problematic for us and that we would like to address are the following:

1. Improving the accountability of online platforms, including search engines, must be achieved by introducing effective due diligence obligations and not by making them beneficiaries of a broad and unjustified immunity ("safe harbor”), as proposed. This will certainly reduce the level of responsibility for the effective removal of illegal content. It is also worrying that intermediaries can benefit from the privileges of a "safe harbor", even if they do not comply with their due diligence obligations. If that happens, it would remove all real incentives to comply with DSA obligations.

2. The principle of "subsidiarity", mentioned in the latest amendments adopted in December 2021 by the lead Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, means that right-holders will be obliged to take action against the direct infringer of their rights before they can prosecute the intermediary service provider. This would make the fight against online piracy extremely ineffective and would, in practice, work against the achieving of one of the main objectives of the Digital Services Act, which is to increase the accountability of intermediaries.

3. Extending the scope of the Customer Tracking Obligations is essential to tackling the serious problem of digital piracy sites and illegal operators operating on a commercial scale and hiding behind fake identities. There is also the need for more effective tools when it comes to dealing with fraudsters, repeat offenders, and systematic illegal activities. An appropriate mechanism must be put in place to enforce these obligations to ensure that EU consumers are exposed to as little illegal content, services, and products as possible and that right-holders are protected as much as possible from the illegal use of their works.

The decision will be taken depending on the position of MEPs during the European Parliament's DSA plenary vote scheduled for this month, as well as the position of each national Member State in the joint discussions of the three European institutions, which will begin after the plenary session vote, in the framework of the French Presidency of the EU.