At the end of August, a law that changes the rules for content on video sharing platforms ↗ was sent to the Collection of Laws for publication. This law only applies to companies that are established in the Czech Republic, hence platforms such as YouTube or Instagram deal in Ireland. In the Czech Republic, the law will affect services such as Ulož.to, Rajče, but also other platforms that offer video sharing as a functionality to users.
If you plan to develop a platform that will allow users to share video content, watch out.
The obligation to adopt the law stems from the 2018 Directive 2018/1808 of the European Parliament and of the Council of the EU, in which the European Commission draws attention in particular to the insufficient protection of minors against harmful content on video sharing platforms such as YouTube or Tik Tok.
The dissemination of hateful, violent or otherwise harmful content is much easier on them due to the lack of regulation. The Directive should have been implemented in our legal system by 19 September 2020.
The new law addresses responsibility for content. Unlike traditional radio and television broadcasting or on-demand audiovisual services (such as the Czech DVTV.cz), where the operator determines the content of the programmes and is therefore responsible for it, there is a problem with video sharing platforms that the new legislation should help solve.
Videos are uploaded and often created by users themselves, and the liability of providers is limited - they are only liable for uploaded content if they know or have reason to know that the uploaded content is illegal.
This liability does not apply to "merely" harmful but not illegal content. So far, no preliminary or ongoing content control or other active measures have been required. With the advent of this law, however, the rules of the game are partially changing.
The basic obligations under the new law are to take sufficient measures to protect:
The platform then has 60 days to process the notification.
In platforms, however, a notification button will not be enough; the mechanism must be more comprehensive and include the ability for users to rate malicious content.
The law regulates what ads users can see. Thus, the platform provider must ensure that advertisements relating to cigarettes, tobacco products, electronic cigarettes and refills are not displayed. It must also not display advertising for medicines that are available on prescription.
This is to be expected in these areas, but the law goes further. The platform must not display advertising that:
The display rules don't apply only to ads placed by the ad provider itself (such as on YouTube, where an ad plays before you watch a video). All of the above rules must also be enforced by the platform for ads that creators place in their videos.
It should exercise limited control. But most importantly, incorporate rules for display advertising into the terms and conditions. So if a creator wants to embed a video/establish an account, they must explicitly commit to no harmful ads in videos. Ideally, such an obligation should be followed by additional sanctions.
The Broadcasting Council will register providers of video sharing platforms and monitor whether they have taken reasonable measures under the new law. In effect, the law centralises the list of providers of similar services. As mentioned above, the list will not register platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, but only national companies that are, simply put, based in the Czech Republic.
To date, however, it is not sufficiently clear who will have to be included in the list. Some of the big players on the market include Tomato or Ulož.to. On the other hand, from the very definition of a service under the Act, it is one whose main purpose, or the main purpose of a separable part of it, is the provision of user-generated programmes or video content.
So, if you have an app that, for example, functions as a local social network or offers the ability to share videos with other users as a feature, you are subject to the obligation to be listed.
It can be assumed that the Broadcasting Council will issue a standardised form for this (such as for on-demand audiovisual media services ↗). However, even the Council is not yet clear on who will be affected by the law.
The following will need to be prepared for listing:
Any changes to the information must then be reported to the Council within 10 days of the date on which the changes occurred.
The list will be publicly accessible and anyone will be able to take extracts or copies from it. It will be available on the Council's website ↗.
We're ready for your listing and happy to help. Contat us ↗.
Platform providers can be fined from CZK 100,000 to CZK 500,000 for breaching the rules. For example, a fine of up to CZK 200,000 can be imposed for an advertisement that contains electronic cigarettes placed by an operator on a platform.
If the operator fails to ensure that creators do not display prohibited advertisements on the platform, the operator may be fined up to CZK 100,000.
As with radio and television broadcasting and on-demand audiovisual media services, the competent authority to supervise compliance with the new Act is the Broadcasting Council.
In addition to regulating content unsuitable for minors and seeking to limit and prevent the dissemination of hateful and violent content, the new law also changes the rules for the provision of on-demand audiovisual services. For example, programmes unsuitable for minors will now have to be labelled, programmes will have to be made available to people with hearing or visual impairments and the rules for commercial communications on air will be amended.