EU copyright reform : what is new?

Copyright lawyer Vasiliki Antoniadou explores for Aphaia blog what is the impact of the proposed EU copyright reform on the Digital Single Market.

The long anticipated and debated Copyright reform package of the European Commission has been formally released. In pursuit of the Digital Single Market the Commission proposes rules at the European level, which address copyright issues emerging from today’s digital reality.

eu copyright reform vasiliki antoniadou
The Commission’s proposal mainly aims to improve the accessibility to internet content across borders, to promote the research, education and cultural heritage, and finally to ameliorate the position of the creators, the press and the creative industries in the marketplace.

First, in order to achieve the above goals, the rules contain new compulsory copyright exceptions. For instance, according to the new proposals the text and data mining by research organisations is allowed when it comes to subject matter, which they lawfully access in the name of scientific research. In addition, copyright exceptions apply to the use of works in digital and cross-border teaching activities and to the making of copies of works that belong permanently in the collections of cultural heritage institutions.

Second, the Commission favours the creation of a new ‘ancillary’ right for the publishers with respect to the online use of their press publications. Nonetheless, Spain and Germany examples were not considered successful, having introduced regulation that in essence required the payment of a fee for the snippets of text and thumbnails of images used by News sites, such as Google News. Google refused to pay, which resulted in free licenses in Germany and market exit in Spain.

Third, the ‘value gap’, which relates to the low remuneration of the music right holders while at the same time the consumption of their work is increasing, is also addressed by the Commission. The proposal suggests that hosting providers who provide access to large amounts of copyright works, such as Youtube, should seek licenses by the right holders and adopt filtering technologies in order to trace copyright infringement. An obligation for general monitoring of content, though, would contradict the safe harbour principle of the E-Commerce Directive of 2000, which explicitly prevents the imposition of any general obligations to monitor.

To conclude, the reform disappointed some parties who wished for more groundbreaking changes towards the direction of a more open internet and a broader public domain, while others, such as the right holders, saw it as a positive starting point for further negotiations. It remains to be seen how the proposal is going to be processed by the Council and the Parliament, and what would be its final impact on the fathomless internet world.

Do you want an assessment as to how the EU copyright reform proposal affects your rights? You can subscribe to Aphaia’s IT law support service.

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