Reform on the EU legal framework on Copyright: prioritising the rights of creators and limiting the power of internet giants

The EU Parliament and Council are in the process of reforming the rules on copyright however, as yet there has been no formal adoption of the proposed Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council putting in place agreements reached between EU negotiators on updating digital copyright rules in the Single Market.
Empowering new publishers in negotiating their remuneration:
The proposed updates aim at providing incentives for Internet platforms to pay for artists and journalists’ work used and empowering those who produce content, and thus hold the rights to the content they produce, in their negotiations with internet platform companies by ensuring that obligations and rights imposed under copyright law apply to these internet companies. It is hoped this will lead to internet giants such as YouTube, Facebook and Google News being obliged to pay for the work of journalists and artists which are used on their platforms.
The directive aims at enabling right holders to negotiate their remuneration for the use of their works which are previewed on internet platforms. Additionally, authors, the work of whom is published through their distributors, will have the right to claim additional remuneration when the distributor’s benefits are greater than their own. In situations where the benefits of the two are disproportionate, then the rights holder will have the right to claim additional remuneration.

Ensuring fair revenue for rights holders:
The current legal framework does not impose any liability on internet companies for infringement of copyright resulting from content their users upload onto their platform, instead only imposing an obligation to remove infringing content in situations where they are asked to do so by the rights holders. As a result, there is presently no obligation or incentive for internet companies to sign fair licensing agreements with rights holders. The proposed update in the law aims at ensuring that fair licensing agreements are entered into between internet companies and rights holders thus leading to the latter being awarded a fairer remuneration and being guaranteed a fairer revenue.
The deal, which was provisionally approved by the Legal Affairs Committee on the 26th February 2019, is seen to be of great importance since, it will change the situation whereby internet companies are presently earning significant sums of money through their platforms without providing proper remuneration to the right holders whose work is used to generate traffic to their platform.

Safeguarding freedom of expression:
At the same time the European Parliament and Council negotiators aimed to ensure that freedom of expression in the internet is maintained and therefore the proposal permits the sharing of snippets from articles. Further, the uploading of protected works for purposes of quotation, criticism, review, caricature, parody or pastiche will not be restricted.

Conclusion:
The level and extent to which the proposed increased obligations will apply will not be uniform across all internet platforms with small and start-up platforms not be subject to the same obligations as more established platforms. The final vote on the proposed changes will take place between 25-28 March 2019 and if passed by the Parliament, then Member States will have two years within which to implement the directive.

If you have any questions or require any clarification on this matter, please contact Natasa Polyviou or your usual contact at Elias Neocleous & Co LLC.

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