European Parliament gives the greenlight to copyright reform
by Thierry Leclercq
- The European Parliament approved a draft copyright reform that has been under discussion for two years on 12 September in Strasbourg
With 438 votes for, 226 against and 39 abstentions, the meeting gave the green light to the trilogue negotiations with the Member States and the European Commission, on the basis of a text defended by the German MP Axel Voss (PPE). Following an initial rejection on 5 July, the project was amended slightly to address the concerns raised by two provisions that crystallised the debate: the creation of a new neighbouring right to publishers’ copyright (Article 11) and the empowerment of digital platforms when publishing copyrighted content online (Article 13). According to the text’s opponents, the latter measure would result in the automatic filtering of content, which goes against the freedom of expression.
The amended text specifies that the sharing of content by Internet users for non-commercial purposes does not form part of the legislation, while an exception is to be provided for small and micro-platforms and aggregators entering the market. Major platforms such as Google, YouTube and Facebook will have to enter into licensing agreements with rights holders represented by group management organisations. They will also have to make sure that their recognition and content filtering mechanisms are not abusive. Press content can still be shared via hyperlinks, but the aggregation of press titles and excerpts will be licensed by publishers who will share the revenue with journalists.
The Parliament's text also strengthens the bargaining rights of authors and performers, which is a cause for celebration for the European association of authors (SAA), directors (FERA) and scriptwriters (FSE). In a joint statement, the associations welcomed the introduction of a legal right to "equitable and proportionate remuneration for authors for the exploitation of their work, both online and offline" (Article 14). Authors and performers should also benefit from greater transparency about the results of the use of their work and will be able to renegotiate their remuneration accordingly. They may also be able to revoke or terminate license exclusivity when not effectively exercised.
Next week, a delegation of MEPs will visit Silicon Valley, where meetings are expected to take place with the heads of major GAFA platforms. According to Axel Voss, "they should participate constructively in the discussion to implement practical solutions." The main opponent to this text, the MEP Julia Reda, however, does not intend to give up, believing that Parliament will still be able to block the resulting agreement of the trilogue next spring. Once adopted definitively, the Member States will have two years to transpose the directive into their national legislation.
(Translated from French)
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