Tuesday, 26 February 2019

EU Copyright Directive Set to Strengthen Authors Rights

Following several months of negotiation and weeks of political deadlock the European Parliament, Council and Commission have reached agreement over the wording of the new Copyright Directive.

The passage of the Directive has not been straightforward. It was first presented by the Commission in September 2016 and has faced numerous setbacks, including being rejected by the European Parliament last June.

The Directive still needs to be confirmed by member states and MEPs before it is formally adopted but passing this stage of the drafting process is a significant step in the right direction.

What is the Copyright Directive?

Currently authors, creators and rights-holders are not adequately protected or remunerated when their work is used online, the Directive is designed to address this imbalance.

The publicity around the Directive has mostly centred around Articles 11 and 13. Article 11 will oblige US tech giants such as Google to negotiate licensing agreements with rights holders before publishing links to their content (for example on Google News). Article 13 will require internet platforms such as YouTube to acquire licences for the content they host and ensure that there is no copyright infringement on their sites. These Articles have been fiercely discussed and negotiated. We are awaiting the final texts but it seems that what has emerged provides a fair balance that will benefit creators and users without being unduly onerous to hosts.

What Does it Mean For Authors, Scriptwriters, Translators and Illustrators?

Under the terms of Article 14, creators will be entitled to transparent information on how their works are being exploited by their publishers. This will make it easier for authors, scriptwriters, translators and illustrators to negotiate future contracts and to receive a fairer share of the generated revenues. If publishers or producers fail to exploit the rights that the creators have transferred to them, authors and performers will be allowed to revoke their rights. In addition, Article 15 introduces a contract adjustment mechanism (or “bestseller clause”) allowing creators to claim additional remuneration when sales are much better than expected.

Nicola Solomon, Chief Executive of the Society of Authors, said: “This is excellent news for all creators and rights-holders. the Copyright Directive is a vital piece of legislation which affirms the rights of creators whose work is used online.

“The ‘bestseller clause’ will ensure that our members receive the remuneration they deserve when their work does better than expected. And if it isn’t being exploited, creators can get their rights back.

“We aren’t celebrating just yet, as the Directive still needs to be confirmed by member states and voted on by MEPs. But this breakthrough following weeks of deadlock comes as a huge relief, and we are optimistic that the Directive will soon be passed into EU law - and then into UK law within the following two years.”

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