Copyright & Legal Matters Working Group

A New Copyright Directive: Don’t Throw the Baby Out With the Bathwater!

Posted: 11-02-2019 Topics: Copyright

The EU draft Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market is reaching the end game. In the run up the European elections in May this year, the Commission, Council and Parliament are having to agree the final wording of this new Directive.

As reported by LIBER recently two articles remain extremely controversial – Article 11 and Article 13. We are concerned this could jeopardise the future of the whole Directive.  

Article 11 (nicknamed the ‘link tax’) introduces a new right for publishers in regards to the use of digital newspapers. Article 13 relating to online content sharing services, has had wide coverage in the main stream media. An online petition targeting Article 13 has over 4.6 million signatures already and, according to MEP Julia Reda, will become the largest ever online petition if it surpasses 4.9 million signatures. The legislation is aimed at changing existing legal regimes and introducing new obligations on organisations who allow end users to upload content to their platforms.

These articles have become even more contentious in the past week, with large rightsholders like Bertelsmann (Europe’s largest publisher) saying it doesn’t agree with the latest compromise draft on Article 13.

As we head into the last feverish weeks on this brief, LIBER wants to remind policymakers that, even if these controversial articles fall,  the rest of the Directive must progress into law unhindered.

Many of the provisions within the Directive represent a hugely significant step forward in the way that researchers, libraries, and citizens can use in-copyright works. These include:

  • Articles 3 and 3a which for the first time reflect  the data economy we live in,  introducing copyright exceptions for Text and Data Mining (TDM) which forms the basis of Artifical Intelligence (AI).
  • Article 5 which allows digital preservation of in-copyright works including the use of digital preservation networks within a member state, but also cross border.
  • Articles 7-9 which create mechanisms that allow for the mass digitisation of in-copyright but out of commerce works that sit in the continent’s libraries and archives.

These articles are incredibly important for European research and the economy, and should not be jeopardised by political disagreements over Articles 11 and 13.

European policymakers as well as libraries and universities have been working on legal solutions to mass digitisation in Europe since the 2005 Google Books court case. In the case of (TDM), this has been part of policy work by the Commission, industry and universities since 2012.

Irrespective of what happens to Articles 11 and 13 in Trilogue, we musn’t ignore the other important progress contained in the Directive: progress which ensures copyright law in 2019 is fit for purpose and supports both research and the economy. We urge the Council, Parliament and the European Commission to let the rest of the Directive progress to adoption unhindered.

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