EU 'breakthrough' on new copyright directive

EU 'breakthrough' on new copyright directive

The European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission have broken a political deadlock on a new copyright directive - which was backed in its draft form by the Society of Authors and the Publishers Association - to produce a major revamp of copyright rules, for the first time in 18 years.

The EU said the new deal would modernise copyright for the digital age and force US technology firms to take greater responsibility for content they host, offering greater protection against intellectual copyright infringement. Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip said: “To finally have modern copyright rules for the whole of EU is a major achievement that was long overdue. 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.”

The EU said the new rules reinforces the position of European authors and performers in the digital environment with the principle of an appropriate and proportionate remuneration for authors to be laid down for the first time in European copyright law.

Confirming the breakthrough, the EU said: “Authors and performers will enjoy access to transparent information on how their works and performances are exploited by their counterparts (publishers and producers). This will make it easier for them to negotiate future contracts and to receive a fairer share of the generated revenues. If publishers or producers fail to exploit the rights that authors and performers have transferred to them, authors and performers will be allowed to revoke their rights.”

Anders Lassen, president of GESAC, the European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers, representing more than one million authors, said: "We still need to have a careful assessment of the final text, but its adoption sends a clear signal that large platforms dominating the online content market at the expense of creators must stop freeriding and comply with copyright rules.” He called upon the EU to "give their final approval to this historical breakthrough, without any further delay."

The EU Commission in Ireland said the new copyright directive “will reinforce position of European authors & performers in the digital environment and enhance high-quality journalism in the EU.”

Comment and reaction from the UK book trade bodies on the new directive is expected later today. 

Last September, the PA, the BA and the SoA welcomed the European Parliament's vote in favour of the new draft copyright directive, but expressed fears the UK could leave the EU before the directive becomes law.

The breakthrough comes after nearly two and a half years of lobbying after the initial proposal was presented to the European Commission in September 2016. It will require final approval by both the European Parliament and European Commission in the coming weeks.