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EU copyright rules pass latest hurdle

The EU is amending its legal framework on copyright to modernise it. Countries have two years to bring their national legal structures in line. The new rules ensure protection for authors and artists, while opening up new possibilities for accessing and sharing copyright-protected content online throughout the European Union.

The directive addresses a variety of issues, which can be grouped together under three categories:

  • Adaptation of copyright exceptions/limitations to the digital and cross-border environment
    The directive introduces mandatory exceptions to copyright for the purposes of text and data mining, online teaching activities and the preservation and online dissemination of cultural heritage.
  • Improvement of licensing practices to ensure wider access to creative content
    The directive provides for harmonised rules facilitating the:exploitation of works that have stopped being commercialised (out-of-commerce works), 
    issuing of collective licences with extended effect and rights clearance for films by video-on-demand platforms.
  • Achievement of a well-functioning marketplace for copyright
    The directive introduces a new right for press publishers for the online use of their press publications. Authors of works incorporated in the press publication will be entitled to a share of the press publisher's revenue deriving from this new right.

As regards online content sharing platforms, which are based on the “user-uploaded-content” model, the directive clarifies the legal framework within which they operate. Such platforms will in principle have to obtain a licence for copyright protected works uploaded by users unless a number of conditions provided for in the directive are met.  Rightholders will therefore be able to better negotiate the conditions of the exploitation of their online works and be remunerated for the online use of their content by these platforms. At the same time, the directive allows users to generate and upload content freely, for purposes of quotation, criticism, review, caricature, parody and pastiche. To that effect, it transforms these exceptions, currently optional for member states, into mandatory exceptions for this particular type of use.

The directive also enshrines authors' and performers' right to appropriate and proportionate remuneration upon the licensing or transfer of their rights and introduces a transparency obligation concerning the exploitation of licensed works, as well as a remuneration adjustment mechanism, accompanied by a dedicated alternative dispute resolution mechanism. Software developers are excluded from these rules.