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21 November 2019

European Council approves new copyright rules for the internet

17 April 2019

European Union

On 15 April 2019 the Council of the European Union gave its green light to the new Copyright Directive which 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.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "With today's agreement, we are making copyright rules fit for the digital age. 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."

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. Also today, 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 1 April 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.

Next Steps

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 17 April at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Background

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.

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

For the full press release and texts of debates etc, see the EU Parliament website.

 

United Kingdom

See the UK Government website for guidance on Intellectual property after Brexit. If the UK remains in the European Union, it will have 24 months (like all other members) to implement the legislation. 

For comments on the Council of the European Union decision, see the BBC's article of 15 April 2019: Article 13: UK helps push through new EU copyright rules and Natasha Bernal in The Telegraph of 15 April 2019: Overhaul of EU copyright law clears final hurdle.

For comments from the Publishers Association, Booksellers Association, Society of Authors and others when the European Parliament voted in favour of the legislation last month, see The Bookseller of 26 March 2019. For more information on what the changes mean, see The Guardian article of 26 March 2019 by Alex Hern.