EU finalises copyright reform

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The Council of the European Union has given the green light to the new Copyright Directive which the European Commission says will bring concrete benefits to citizens, the creative sectors, the press, researchers, educators, and cultural heritage institutions.

The reform will adapt copyright rules to today’s world, where music streaming services, video-on-demand platforms, news aggregators and user-uploaded-content platforms have become the main gateways to access creative works and press articles. It was proposed by the Commission in September 2016 and voted by the European Parliament in March 2019.

“With today’s agreement, we are making copyright rules fit for the digital age,” stated European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. “Europe will now have clear rules that guarantee fair remuneration for creators, strong rights for users and responsibility for platforms. When it comes to completing Europe’s digital single market, the copyright reform is the missing piece of the puzzle.”

According to the EC, the new Directive will boost high-quality journalism in the EU and offer better protection for European authors and performers. Users will benefit from the new rules, which will allow them to upload copyright protected content on platforms legally. Moreover, they will benefit from enhanced safeguards linked to the freedom of expression when they upload videos that contain rights holders’ content, i.e. in memes or parodies.

The Copyright Directive is a part of a broader initiative to adapt EU copyright rules to the digital age. Additionally, EU Member States finally adopted new rules to make it easier for European broadcasters to make certain programmes on their online services available across borders. Furthermore, since April 1st 2018, Europeans who buy or subscribe to films, sports broadcasts, music, e-books and games in their home Member State are able to access this content when they travel or stay temporarily in another EU country.

After publication in the Official Journal of the EU, the Member States will have 24 months to transpose the Directive into their national legislation. The new rules on Copyright as well as the new rules facilitating access to online TV and radio content across borders will be formally signed on Wednesday 17th April at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

In September 2016, the European Commission proposed modernising EU Copyright rules for European culture to flourish and circulate, as part of the Digital Single Market strategy. The reform modernises EU rules dating back to 2001, when there were no social media, no video on demand, no museums digitising their art collections and no teacher providing online courses.

The Commission’s surveys showed in 2016 that 57 per cent of Internet users access press articles via social networks, information aggregators or search engines. 47 per cent of these users read extracts compiled by these sites without clicking through. The same trend was observed for the music and film industry: 49 per cent of Internet users in the EU access music or audiovisual content online, 40 per cent of those aged 15-24 watched TV online at least once a week. This trend has rocketed since then.


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