News Detail

23.07.2018

Copyright review still raging in the EU

After a strenuous fight, the Legal Committee (JURI) of the European Parliament finally approved its long-awaited report, amending the commission proposal for a new directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. The JURI report was welcomed by FIA and other performer organisations, as it promised to drive more transparency into the contractual relationships between performers and producers and also enable claims for contractual adjustments, were direct and indirect revenues to be disproportional to the remuneration initially agreed.

The report also introduced the principle of proportionate and fair remuneration, including for online use, based on individual agreements or collective bargaining agreements but also, where more effective, statutory measures. If the Fair Internet campaign fell short of achieving a fully harmonised and complementary equitable remuneration right of making available, paid by users and subject to mandatory collective management, it certainly managed with this provision to safeguard similar systems where they already exist in national laws and open the door to further copyright reforms at national level granting secure payment mechanisms to performers for on demand use.

The JURI report included other significant improvements of the original Commission proposal that FIA advocated strongly for, e.g. scrapping a wide sweeping extension from transparency obligations for performances deemed to be "not significant" and also enabling the trade unions to take an active role on behalf of individual performers.

Unfortunately, as a full Parliament gathered to confirm the report and the co-legislator's mandate to enter informal negotiations with the Commission and the Council with a view to reaching a compromise and fast tracking the adoption of this directive, a small majority of MEPs voted against the report. This was largely due to their uneasiness with respect to two provisions. The first (art. 11) would grant press publishers the right to get paid by online media sites. The second (art. 13) established a new regime for video-sharing platforms, along the lines of YouTube, requiring them to pay for content and forbidding them from uploading, or letting their users upload, copyrighted content without a license. This last provision, in particular, proved extremely divisive – including within political groups – and was heavily obstructed by the tech giants, conveniently fuelling over-alarming news raised by consumer and other interest groups.

The European Parliament's rejection of new copyright rules shows how difficult it is for regulators to get the GAFAs to pay for content they currently use for free. The early July vote effectively sends the draft copyright directive back to the drawing board. A new version, with amendments, will be debated and voted on September 12. Were the outcome of the vote be negative, the EP report would go back to committee and most likely die a quick death there. With parliamentary elections and a renewal of all Commissioners scheduled for 2019, there would be no time left to dock this important piece of reform. FIA will continue to work together with other performing organisations to secure all provisions of interest to performers and encourage reasonable compromises on the few outstanding items.

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