Copyright Directive agreed by European Commission, Parliament and Council of the European Union

February 14, 2019

The Copyright Directive has been agreed by European Commission, Parliament and Council of the European Union.

In September 2016, the European Commission proposed to modernise EU copyright rules as part of the Digital Single Market Strategy. After much (fraught) negotiation, political agreement on the text of the proposed Directive has now been reached by the European Commission, European Parliament and Council of the European Union.

The new Directive aims at reinforcing the position of European authors and performers in the digital environment and enhancing high-quality journalism in the EU. In particular, the aim is to bring:

• tangible benefits to all creative sectors, specifically creators and actors in the audio-visual and musical sectors, by reinforcing their position vis-à-vis platforms to have more control over the use of their content uploaded by users on these platforms and be remunerated for it.

• the principle of an appropriate and proportionate remuneration for authors and performers will be set out for the first time in European copyright law.

• authors and performers will enjoy access to transparent information on how their works and performances are exploited by their counterparts (publishers and producers). This will make it easier for them to negotiate future contracts and to receive a fairer share of the generated revenues. 

• if publishers or producers fail to exploit the rights that authors and performers have transferred to them, authors and performers will be allowed to revoke their rights.

There will be a new right for European press publishers, which aims to facilitate the way they negotiate how their content is re-used on online platforms. It will give journalists the right to receive a greater share of the revenues generated by the online uses of press publications. This right will not affect individual users, who can continue to share news hyperlinks as they do today.

Users will benefit from the new licensing rules which will allow them to upload copyright protected content on platforms like YouTube or Instagram legally. They will also benefit from safeguards linked to the freedom of expression when they upload videos that contain rightholders’ content, that is, in memes or parodies. The Directive foresees that the interests of the users are preserved through effective mechanisms to swiftly contest any unjustified removal of their content by the platforms.

The new Directive aims to ensure wider access to knowledge by simplifying copyright rules in the areas of text and data mining for research and other purposes, education and preservation of cultural heritage:

Research organisations, universities and other users will be able to make the most of the increasing number of publications and data available online for research or other purposes due to a copyright exception to carry out text and data mining on large sets of data. This aims to enhance the development of data analytics and artificial intelligence in Europe.

Students and teachers will be able to use copyrighted materials in online courses, including across borders, for the purposes of illustration for teaching.

The preservation of cultural heritage in the collections of European museums, archives and other cultural heritage institutions will have no copyright restrictions.

Users will also have access to works, films or music records that are no longer commercially available in Europe today, as well as wider variety of European audiovisual works on video-on-demand platforms.

They will be completely free to share copies of paintings, sculptures and other works of art in the public domain with full legal certainty.

Next steps
The agreed text must now be formally confirmed by the European Parliament and the Council. Once confirmed and published on the Official Journal of the EU, EU member states will have 24 months to transpose the new rules into their national legislation.

A set of FAQs on the agreed text has been issued.