The European Parliament has passed the copyright directive which aims to ensure that the rules applicable under copyright law are tailored to cater for the changes brought about by the digital age.

Digital technologies have evolved the manner in which protected work is created, produced and distributed and therefore this directive is a step in the right direction to further safeguard the rights of creatives in this digital reality.

The primary aim of the directive is that it seeks to correct the situation curbing the revenue companies make when digitally exploiting journalists’ and artists’ (‘right-holders’) content while at the same time entrenching freedom of expression and innovation on the internet.

Right-holders are now granted the opportunity to negotiate remuneration deals through fair licencing agreements with internet platforms making the latter liable for the online distribution of the right-holders’ works that their users upload. In the absence of such licensing agreements, Article 13 of the said Directive imposes on tech companies the obligation to monitor any user-uploaded content and to implement ‘upload filters’ which will detect any copyright-protected content before uploading it onto their platform under pain of being held responsible for any material posted without copyright permission. Start-up platforms will be subject to less stringent obligations than those imposed on well-established companies.

With the licencing agreements and ‘filtering’ procedures, right holders will be entitled to fairer remuneration when their work is exploited digitally ensuring the further protection of their work. The European Parliament has confirmed that memes, snippets and GIFs – still and moving images - shall be excluded for the purposes of the Directive and are still shareable content on online platforms for purposes of quotation, criticism and parody. Uploading works to online encyclopaedias in a non-commercial way will also be excluded from the scope of this Directive. Lastly, the directive facilitates the use of copyrighted material through text and data mining thereby resolving the competitive disadvantage currently faced by European researchers.

This directive now awaits the approval from the EU Member States after which each Member State will have two years to implement it once it is officially published.