The three main European political bodies – the European Parliament, the Council of the EU, and the European Commission – have agreed a final text for the proposed modernisation of copyright laws across the EU. “The negotiations were difficult, but what counts in the end is that we have a fair and balanced result that is fit for a digital Europe: the freedoms and rights enjoyed by internet users today will be enhanced, our creators will be better remunerated for their work, and the internet economy will have clearer rules for operating and thriving,” said VP for the digital single market Andrus Ansip in a statement.
In its current form, the new directive’s Article 13 aims to balance the rights of creators/rightsholders and internet users. “Users will benefit from the new licencing rules which will allow them to upload copyright protected content on platforms like YouTube or Instagram legally. They will also benefit from safeguards linked to the freedom of expression when they upload videos that contain rightholders’ content, i.e. in memes or parodies. The interests of the users are preserved through effective mechanisms to swiftly contest any unjustified removal of their content by the platforms,” explained the EC.
Opponents of Article 13 are still protesting: “Should a court ever find their licensing or filtering efforts not fierce enough, sites are directly liable for infringements as if they had committed them themselves,” blogged MEP Julia Reda, in her latest call for European voters to warn their MEPs (members of the European Parliament) that they will vote against them in the coming European elections if they vote to approve the new directive. And this is the next episode in this saga: a vote by the Council – if 13 members or members representing at least 35% of the EU vote against, the legislation can be stopped, but this seems unlikely.
And then a vote by the European Parliament, which is where 751 MEPs with an eye on the elections a few weeks later will have to cast their votes in favour or against the final text. More twists to come? Quite possibly: and that’s before the EU member states have to each implement the final legislation, where there is scope for more changes – and thus more lobbying. In the meantime, we await the views of rightsholder and creator bodies, not to mention YouTube and other tech companies, on the final draft.