EU’s Copyright Reform Might End AI & Big Data Startups

July 28, 2017 - Written By Dominik Bosnjak

The Copyright Reform that’s currently being discussed by the top regulators in the European Union may significantly endanger and even end various artificial intelligence (AI) and big data startups on the Old Continent, some industry watchers believe. A number of entrepreneurs clearly stated their intentions to migrate outside of the bloc if the law is enacted, according to Lenard Koschwitz of Allied for Startups. The most controversial aspect of the proposed legislation pertains to data and text mining, with several committees in the European Parliament recently proposing that startups are only allowed to do so within the first three years of their operations without obtaining explicit permission from the sources. The move would essentially put an expiry date on a number of emerging companies, some entrepreneurs argue, adding how everything from e-commerce to social media solutions cannot be solely fueled by old data and always need to be mining and analyzing new sets, whereas obtaining permissions from individual sources is nearly impossible to do in practice.

The latest draft of the proposed regulation is still more lenient than the original that sought to regulate startups in the same manner that tech giants like Google and Facebook are policed, though smaller firms in Europe still believe how that isn’t enough to ensure their sustainability. If the law is enacted, startups on the continent would either have to plan ahead and look to change their business models after three years or leave the bloc before their period of unobstructed data mining is up. The legislation would also significantly reduce their chances of getting funded, Koschwitz argues, noting how major investors are likely to get discouraged by the EU’s efforts to regulate the industry in such a strict manner. Competing startups that operate outside of the bloc but sell services in the EU wouldn’t be affected by the changes and would hence be at a significant advantage if the law is enacted, Koschwitz concluded.

Members of the European Parliament previously received a written explanation from Allied for Startups on why the move would significantly hurt the local industry without providing any benefits to other actors, though the three-year exemption was still backed and has a realistic chance of being approved by the Legal Affairs Committee on October 10.