On September 2016, the Commission presented the Copyright reform, a legislative ‘Package’, consisting of measures of different nature, to adapt the legal framework for copyright to digital and cross-border uses of protected content, to new actors and business models. That modernization focuses on three specific areas: online access to content in the EU, a review of copyright exceptions in the digital and cross-border environment, and reinforcing the functioning of the copyright-related marketplace.
In relation to the first area, the Commission proposed for the online environment what is already in place for cable and satellite communications in Europe: the country-of-origin principle and mandatory use of collective management. By extending the former, broadcasters will need to clear the rights only once, in the country from which they retransmit. While, thanks to the use of collective management, operators, who offer packages of channels, instead of negotiating individually with each right holder, will be able to get the licenses from collective management organizations representing right holders. Moreover, to boost video-on-demand offerings in Europe, the Commission calls Member States to set up negotiation bodies to help reach licensing agreements.
Concerning copyright exceptions, the proposed Directive turns into a mandatory pan-European exception the one permitting educational establishments to use materials to illustrate teaching through digital tools and in online courses across borders, subject to the conditions that such use is conducted on “the premises of an educational establishment or through a secure electronic network” and that it is supplemented with the indication of the source. Specific exceptions are created for text and data mining activities for the purposes of scientific research and for cultural heritage institutions to preserve works digitally. However, the Commission decided not to regulate at the European level the ‘panorama exception’, permitting Member States to lay down exceptions or limitations to copyright concerning the use of works made to be located permanently in public places.
With the intention to reduce the so-called ‘value-gap’, namely the weak position of right holders before online platforms distributing and exploiting their works, the Commission imposes new obligations on online service providers that store and give access to a large amount of works uploaded by their users. Particularly, they are required to conclude agreements with right holders in order to use their works and to adopt measures, such as the use of content recognition technologies, to avoid unlawful content. Furthermore, to ensure fair remunerations, the Directive obliges Member States to impose a transparency obligation on the contractual party of creators, which consists in the responsibility to inform them on the exploitation of their work, the revenues generated and the due remuneration.
Finally, the proposal introduces a new related right for publishers: press publications will be legally recognized as right holders, thus they will be in a better position to negotiate the use of their content with online services using or enabling access to it. The Commission proposes a related right, to be granted by Member States to publishers for a term of 20 years, for the online uses of news publications. Moreover, the license or transfer of a right by an author to a publisher will be considered a sufficient legal basis for Member States to provide publisher wit the right to “claim a share of the compensation for the uses of the work made under an exception or limitation to the transferred or licensed right.”
The proposed Directive is subject to the ordinary legislative procedure and its final result will be probably quite different from the original Commission proposal.