If the new “VSP” Regulations are ringing a bell, but perhaps you were waiting on Ofcom to provide its guidance before deciding whether they apply to you, get them back to the top of your to-do list! The guidance is now in, and you only have a few weeks to notify.
As a reminder, since 1 November 2020, Video Sharing Platforms have been regulated. We explored the scope of the regulations, the definition of Video Sharing Platforms and the rules that must now be complied with in our article here. We explained:
“Whether you're a news publisher, a sports club, a fan site or any other online service, if you have a 'dissociable' (separable) section which has as its principle purpose (or an essential function) the ability for the public to upload videos, you now need to be alert to new “Video Sharing Platform” (VSP) regulations.”
The regulations require providers of VSPs to notify Ofcom (the designated regulator), of their VSP services. This obligation to notify kicks in for new VSPs on 6 April 2021, while existing VSPs will have until 6 May 2021 to notify their services.
Ofcom has today published its guidance to help VSP providers assess whether they are legally obliged to submit a formal notification of their service to Ofcom.
The extensive guidance provides some useful explanations, for example on what is meant by a “dissociable part” of a service, and what is really meant by the requirement that the VSP must be offered on a commercial basis. (In both cases the explanation suggests quite a wide interpretation).
The guidance also explains the differences between a VSP and an ODPS (an “On Demand Programme Service”). In simple terms, think YouTube versus Netflix. However the guidelines clarify that a VSP provider (like YouTube) may also host ODPSs of its own (to the extent that the service provider selects and organises the content) or of third parties (think of a YouTube branded ‘channel’). Where there is this overlap, separate VSP and ODPS notifications are required.
Incidentally Ofcom are also due to publish updated guidance on who needs to notify as an ODPS following recent changes to relevant definitions which broaden their scope. We’ll update you when this arrives.
If you need help with understanding the VSP or ODPS rules, please get in touch. We’d be happy to help.
It is the responsibility of providers, taking independent legal advice where necessary, to make their own assessment of whether their service meets the statutory criteria and therefore must be notified to Ofcom.