An agreement has been reached on the much discussed European Directive on copyright. http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-19-528_en.htm. In a race against time to close the dossier by the end of the legislature, in the late evening of February 13, the Parliament, the Commission and the Council of the European Union have finally found an agreement on the copyright directive, which this blog already illustrated https://lawhealthtech.com/2018/09/24/copyright-european-legislation-getting-ready-for-the-digital-era/ .
The vice president of the European Commission immediately tweeted «Europeans will finally have modern copyright rules fit for digital age!». Supporters insist that the new provision will guarantee rights for users, fair remuneration for creators and clarity of rules for platforms. On the other hand, the opposition, stronger than ever before, wants to prevent the imminent change of the internet as we know it.
The highest expectations, placed on the trilogue, concerned the much debated articles 11 and 13, and these have reported to be the outcomes:
- With regard to the publishers rights, the new version of article 11 sets forth a general need to get a license for the online use of publishers’ press publications, with the only exception for the use of «individual words or very short extracts». According to the Commission, mere hyperlinks and snippets are, therefore, not included in the reform. However, how short should be a “very short extracts” is still to be understood.
- With regard to the use of protected content by online content sharing services provider, online platforms should obtain a preemptively authorization from the right holders, concluding licensing agreements (where online platform is defined as «a provider of an information society service whose main or one of the main purposes is to store and give the public access to a large amount of works or other subject-matter uploaded by its users which it organizes and promotes for profit-making purposes»). Indeed, an exception has been created for small online platforms, which will not be subject to the abovementioned obligation if they: have been available to the public for less than three years; have an annual turnover below 10 million of euro; and have less than 5 million of visitors.
In the other cases, if no authorization is granted, sharing services providers shall be liable for unauthorized acts of communication unless they demonstrate not only to have made the best efforts to obtain the authorization, but also, in accordance with high industry standards of professional diligence, to have made the best efforts to ensure the unavailability of specific works, as well as to have acted expeditiously to remove the content, after receipt of a notice from the right holders.
We will see if the agreement will survive until the finishing line or if the vote of the European Parliament, scheduled for March-April, will block the text once again, as, unfortunately, already happened.