On 12 September 2018 the EU Parliament adopted the EU Commission’s proposal for a revised Copyright Directive. The new directive aims at reforming the laws on copyright to create a digital single market in the EU.
However, while the need for an update is generally agreed upon, the way in which such update should be implemented is not. Recently the Parliament approved a revised version of the original proposal of the Commission. In this respect, relevant changes affected the most controversial provisions, namely Articles 11 and 13.
Article 11 provides for a new right for press publishers in connection with the use of their publications on the internet. As a result, sharing platforms, news aggregators and internet service providers will now have to acquire a license from publishing houses for the display of their works, even when only small “snippets” of content are shown. On the other hand, the use of an hyperlink to newspapers articles accompanied by a few words with the description of the content as well as the private and non-commercial use of press publications will not be affected by the provision.
In addition, in view of the copyright directive, also authors will benefit from a fair remuneration for the use of their contents over the internet. In fact, Article 11 requires Member States to ensure that an appropriate share of the fees paid for the use of the content is distributed to journalists and content creators.
As to Article 13, such provision sets forth a stricter liability regime for sharing protected content online. According to this provision, a license agreement will be needed for using copyrighted works on the internet. In case a license is not granted, providers will have to cooperate in good faith with the copyright holder to prevent any unauthorized circulation of the protected content with the use of their services. However, such cooperation will have to be balanced taking into consideration the freedom to share non-infringing works or contents exempted from legal protection under copyright law.
Furthermore, some platforms will not be affected by the provisions of Article 13. In fact, in order to balance the protection of copyright with the freedom of expression on the internet, online encyclopaedia (e.g. Wikipedia) and open source software platforms (e.g. GitHub), among other entities, will be exempted from the need to comply with the new regulation.
Finally, no mention is made to the obligations and liabilities placed on entities such as companies or other entities, if they share protected works, including newspapers articles, on their websites and social media pages.
The new copyright directive, as outlined above, is still a proposal; further modifications of the text recently approved by the Parliament might be included in the course of the negotiations among the Council of the EU, the EU Parliament and the European Commission. Even though we will have to wait for the final version of the new directive, the final approval by the EU Parliament has moved the deadlock: we are now a step closer to the final text of a new regulation of copyright in Europe.