Why do we need copyright reform?

We are in the digital era. However, the laws that protect the authors, publishers, journalists and artists who publish online have not been updated in more than 20 years. Our proposal to update the laws is meant to protect authors and creators, better support scientific research and teaching activities, preserve our cultural heritage and make content more accessible.

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We listen to music online, watch videos, read blogs and get our daily dose of news and entertainment online. It is important to ensure that the people creating the content we enjoy and the news publishers who invest money in newspapers to provide us the latest information also get paid and remunerated for their work made available on the internet.

The last time the EU copyright laws were updated was in 2001. Back then, there was no social media, no video on demand, no museums digitalising their art and no teacher recording online classes.

Our copyright reform is an effort to support creators and authors and make sure that they receive credit for their work.

When we presented our proposal — already 2 years ago — our surveys showed that 57% of internet users access press articles via social networks, information aggregators or search engines. 47% of these users are happy to read short extracts without ever getting onto the newspaper website. Same thing for the music and film industry: 49% of internet users in the EU access music or audiovisual content online, 40% of those aged 15–24 watched TV online at least once a week.

This trend has rocketed. Authors and rights holders continue to see their works available online — via large online platforms — without having their say in how their content is used nor being paid accordingly. At the same time these platforms earn billions, thanks to advertising made around that content.

It is time to recognise that the rights of creators, authors, producers and news publishers are important. That is why EU modern rules are needed for a truly digital single market.

Authors, performers and content creators often transfer their rights and licenses to online platforms, publishers or producers. Lack of transparency and clarity of rules makes it hard for creators to monitor the use of their works online, measure their success and get a fair remuneration.

Do you know the reform will help creators, and support journalism?

We proposed targeted measures to increase transparency and balance in contractual relationships between creators and online platforms. Authors and performers will be better informed by their contractual partners on the use of their copyright protected material, simplifying royalty collection and remuneration.

Also, specific provisions of the Copyright Directive proposal are meant to introduce a new publishers’ right that would help secure a free press in a digitalised world.

Newspapers, magazines and other press publications have made use of online services, social media and news aggregators. This has led to broader audiences, but licencing, enforcement of rights and advertising revenues have been impacted. That’s why our proposal also includes a provision to protect journalism by granting new publishers online rights so they can adapt to the changing digital environment. Defending journalism as well as the freedom and pluralism of the media sector has a positive impact to counter-balance the spread of disinformation online with reliable and trustworthy information.

Do you know the proposed copyright reform will support researchers?

Research organisations across EU countries will be able to carry out text and data mining (TDM) of copyright protected content to which they have lawful access, for example scientific publications they have subscribed to.

This will allow universities and other research organisations acting in the public interest to make use of these innovative technologies wherever they are in EU.

This could potentially increase researcher productivity by 2%, which would increase the possibility to do research and the amount of studies conducted in Europe.

Do you know the proposed copyright reform will help teachers and students?

Under the new proposal, the EU countries will ensure that teachers are able to use digital content and copyrighted content while teaching in classrooms. Also, educational institutions could provide access to teaching content to all students, especially distance students, through secure digital networks.

Do you know the proposed copyright reform will help preserve our cultural heritage?

Libraries, archives, museums and other institutions preserve cultural heritage in their collections. Digital preservation requires copying works. We need laws that make it easy for these institutions to be able to copy and preserve the works digitally. This is exactly what the new Copyright proposal does.

In short:

The Copyright Reform aims to:

  • Provide more cross-border access to copyright-protected content online.
  • Expand the opportunities to use copyrighted material for education, research, cultural heritage purposes.
  • Establish fair rules of the game for a better functioning copyright marketplace, which stimulates creation online and support high-quality journalism.

Find more information in this factsheet and this Q&A.

Please note that these blog posts relate to the European Commission proposal on Copyright Reform. The Commission proposal is under discussion between the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. The new rules will enter into force after the agreement is found and the Directive is officially adopted. The European Commission acts as an honest broker to help find a solution that is acceptable for all of us and which ensures a balanced outcome for all stakeholders, while maintaining the objective of the Commission’s proposal.

Last updated: November 2018

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