During the State of the Union 2016, the European Commission
proposed the introduction of new and up to date EU
copyright rules. President Jean Claude Juncker outlined the
main reason for the proposal:
"I want journalists, publishers and authors to be paid
fairly for their work, whether it is made in studios or living
rooms, whether it is disseminated offline or online, whether it is
published via a copying machine or commercially hyperlinked on the
copyright rules come as part of the Commission's Digital
Single Market strategy, and will have a profound effect on online
players such as Google, YouTube and Facebook. These giants have
been accused of not compensating content creators fairly and
reaping all the profits from user generated content.
The proposal has the following three main objectives:
Easier access to online content across borders
Broadcasting operators currently need to obtain authorisation
when offering TV channel packages by negotiating with every single
right holder on an individual basis. These rules aim to facilitate
the process by establishing collective management organisations
which will be able to grant licenses. Once the process becomes
easier and more straightforward, customers will have a greater
choice of content available.
The new rules will encourage museums, information archives and
other bodies to make available to the public and across borders
"out of commerce" works, that is, when the works are no
longer commercially available.
Enhanced copyright laws on education, research and cultural
heritage and further inclusion of disabled people
Teachers encounter difficulty when using online material due to
copyright-related restrictions. The Commission proposed a new
exception which will allow educators to make use of this material.
Another proposed exception will allow cultural heritage
institutions to preserve works digitally for posterity.
With regards to the inclusion of disabled people, the proposed
legislation aims to implement the Marrakesh Treaty and facilitate
access to published works for blind or visually impaired
Increased equality and sustainability in the marketplace for
online content creators, industries and JOURNALISTS
The new rules aim to strengthen the position of content creators
when negotiating their remuneration on platforms such as YouTube.
The press and online news services will be recognized as right
holders and will have authority over the use of their content.
Authors and performers will be in a better position to negotiate
their remuneration with producers and publishers.
The proposal has been met with some criticism from Google,
amongst others. In a statement published on the Googleblog,
Caroline Atkinson, Google's Vice President for Global Policy,
said: "We believe there's a better way. Innovation and
partnership—not subsidies and onerous restrictions—are
the key to a successful, diverse and sustainable news sector in the
EU, and Google is committed to playing its part."
On the other hand, the proposal was described as a "step in
the right direction" by artists and content creators. It is
said that this proposal may close the "value gap" which
currently exists between the level at which media is consumed on
online platforms and the relatively low remuneration received by
The proposal must be approved by the Council of Ministers and
the European Parliament prior to coming into effect. The European
Commission's press release on the matter may be found here.
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