EU controversial #Copyright #Directive approved
With the approval of the new Copyright Directive, the European Parliament has clearly shown its determination to grant right-holders an effective protection. Indeed, the Directive was passed in Strasbourg with 438 votes in its favor, 226 against and 39 abstentions. Now it is up to the Council to decide whether to keep the Directive in its present state or to modify the articles, and to vote its final version.
The approved text has been partially amended from the previously rejected proposal. In the words of the European Parliament, the amendments put in place are aimed at “[bringing] tangible benefits for EU citizens, researchers, educators, writers, artists, press and cultural heritage institutions and to open up the potential for more creativity and content by clarifying the rules and making them fit for the digital world”. Concurrently, online platforms, like YouTube and Facebook, and news aggregator, such as Google News, will have to enforce a higher online protection standard and adequately remunerate all authors for their creations.
The European position backs up the Commission proposal, aimed at strengthening the online platforms’ liability with regards to the infringements of copyright law. The Directive requires all information society service providers, who store and provide to the public user-generated content, to cooperate with right-holders and implement adequate and proportionate measures, in order to enforce copyright protection. These include the adoption of effective content recognition technologies, violation reporting procedures and clear terms of service, in order to swiftly flag and remove infringing contents.
Furthermore, the new boundaries of liability will impose to online platforms and news aggregators to remunerate who holds rights over the copyrighted material they publish online. Media outlets are now entitled to fair compensation for the digital use and publication of their work on third party websites. The new copyright discipline expressly allows journalists themselves, and not only the publishing houses they work for, to benefit from the remuneration stemming from said obligation. With a specific intent to encourage the growth of start-ups and consequently innovation in a broader sense, the text explicitly excludes from its field of application small and micro online-companies.
Mindful of some of the criticisms raised in July, the new Directive specifically states that the upload of contents on non-profit online encyclopedias, such as Wikipedia, or open source sharing platforms, like GitHub, will be automatically exempt from compliance to the obligations set out by the new European dispositions.
Finally, the Parliament opted to strengthen the contractual position of authors and artists. First, they will be allowed to demand additional remuneration from their licensees, whenever the agreed fees are deemed to be “disproportionately” low compared to the earnings and benefits deriving from the exploitation of their creations. Second, they will be entitled to revoke or put an end to the exclusivity of a license, if it appears that the counterparty is not making use the licensed work.
For European and foreign copyright holders, this decision of the European Parliament is an exceptional victory and a stepping stone towards a full recognition of the work of many creators and businesses, but this is not the end of the journey and we will make sure to keep a close eye upon the work of the European legislator.