Open Journal Systems

Copyright Rules for UGC Platforms: From the Safe Harbor Rule to a Levy Scheme

Huang Weijie(Law School, Shenzhen University)


The safe harbor rule was introduced to exempt Internet service providers
(ISPs) from liability for copyright infringement committed by ISP users.
Nevertheless, the safe harbor rule was crafted for ISPs that provide passive, content-neutral service to distribute copyrighted works. Therefore, the safe harbor rule is difficult to accommodate UGC (user-generated-content) platforms due to their active role in facilitating the distribution and even the creation of copyrighted works. The uncertainty of UGC platforms’ liability has led copyright owners to directly target individual UGC creators. In order to unleash the creativity of users without harming the interests of copyright owners, a levy scheme should be introduced. Under the levy scheme, users are allowed to freely use copyrighted works to create UGC for non-commercial purpose. UGC platforms are required to remunerate the copyright owners of the copyrighted works used in the UGC posted on the platforms based on the popularity of the UGC.


Copyright; ISP; UGC platforms; Safe harbor rule; Levy schemes

Full Text:



See Playboy Enterprises, Inc. v. Frena, 839 F. Supp. 1552, 1568 (M.D. Fla. 1993); Religious Technology Center v. Netcom On-Line Communication Services, Inc., 907 F. Supp. 1361, 1370 (N.D. Cal. 1995); Spindler G, 2020. Copyright Law and Internet Intermediaries Liability. In: EU Internet Law in the Digital Era, Synodinou T et al. (eds.), Springer, 3-25.

17 U.S. Code § 512 (a), (b), (c) and (d). Driscoll M,2007. Will YouTube sail into the DMCA’s safe harbor or sink for internet piracy? The John Marshall Review of Intellectual Property Law, 2007 (6): 555.

S. Rept.105-190, 1998: 8.

Kretschmer M, 2012. Private Copying and Fair Compensation: An Empirical Study of Copyright Levies in Europe. London: Intellectual Property Office, 10.

17 U.S. Code § 512 (a), (b), (c) and (d).

See different judicial opinions in CoStar Group vs. LoopNet (373 F.3d 544, 556 (4th Cir. 2004)), Capitol Records v. Vimeo (826 F.3d 78, 96 (2d Cir. 2016)), and BWP Media v. Clarity(820 F.3d 1175, 1178 (10th Cir. 2016)).

Senftleben M, 2020. Institutionalized algorithmic enforcement-The pros and cons of the EU approach to UGC platform liability, Florida International University Law Review, 14(2): 312-313.

Mohsin M. 10 Youtube stats every marketer should know in 2021. Retrieved July 25, 2021, from

Iqbal M. Wechat revenue and usage statistics (2021).Retrieved July 25, 2021, from

Li Y & Huang W, 2019. Taking users' rights seriously: proposed UGC solutions for spurring creativity in the Internet age. Queen Mary Journal of Intellectual Property, 9(1): 72.

Presseller S, 2017. Copyright infringement via social media live streaming shortcomings of the digital millennium copyright act. Arizona State University Sports and

Entertainment Law Journal, 2017 (7): 376.

Lichtman D & Landes W, 2002. Indirect liability for copyright infringement: An economic perspective.Harvard Journal of Law & Technology, 2002(16):



  • There are currently no refbacks.
Copyright © 2021 Weijie Huang Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
  • :+65-98550280 QQ:2249355960