On 14 September 2016, the European Commission launched a series of legislative proposals aimed at modernising copyright, including a proposed Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. These proposals follow from the December 2015 communication on copyright entitled 'Towards a modern, more European copyright framework' that set out the vision of the Commission to create a modern EU copyright framework fit for the digital age.
Proposed Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market
The Directive aims to modernise the European copyright framework for the digital age. It is intended to harmonise copyright exceptions in the areas of research, education and cultural preservation and to create a fairer marketplace whereby content owners can derive greater economic value for the online use of their content. This includes providing for greater protection for press publishers and protection for rightsholders to help address the value gap in the digital market. Ireland’s overall position is to achieve the best balance between the needs of all stakeholders, rightholders, users, and intermediaries. The overall aim is to facilitate the development of the Digital Single Market while continuing to ensure that creators are remunerated for their creative efforts.
Negotiations on the Directive are ongoing in both the EU Council and EU Parliament.
The full suite of proposals as well as the Commission’s background documents can be accessed via ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/modernisation-eu-copyright-rules.
A Regulation and a Directive to implement the Marrakesh Treaty
On 14 September 2016, the European Commission published two legislative proposals, a Directive and a Regulation, jointly intended to implement the Marrakesh Treaty. The Marrakesh Treaty is an international agreement under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organisation adopted on 28 June 2013 and signed by over 50 countries, including Ireland. The Treaty facilitates access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled in formats such as braille, large print text and audio books. The Treaty also provides for the exchange of works across borders by organisations that serve people who are blind, visually impaired, and print disabled.
In July 2017 following negotiations between Member States and the EU Institutions, the EU Parliament and EU Council adopted:
- Directive 2017/1564/EU on certain permitted uses of work and other subject-matter protected by copyright and related rights for the benefit of persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled and amending Directive 2001/29/EC on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society”,
- Regulation 2017/1563/EU on the cross-border exchange between the Union and third countries of accessible format copies of certain works and other subject-matter protected by copyright and related rights for the benefit of persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled”
All EU Member States, including Ireland, are obliged to transpose the Directive by 11th October 2018.
Broadcasting Copyright Regulation
Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down rules on the exercise of copyright and related rights applicable to certain online transmissions of broadcasting organisations and retransmissions of television and radio programmes.
This proposed regulation has in part arisen because of changes in technology and the use of technology since the Satellite and Cable Directive (SatCab Directive) was adopted in 1993.
The Regulation aims to promote the cross-border provision of online services ancillary to broadcasts and to facilitate digital retransmissions over closed networks of TV and radio programmes originating in other Member States.
The Bulgarian Presidency has been progressing negotiations with the EU Institutions (the EU Parliament, the EU Council, and the EU Commission). This proposal falls under the policy remit of the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
One of the first measures adopted under the Digital Single Market was the Portability Regulation. This Regulation, which came into force on 1 April 2018, will allow EU consumers to have access to their online subscriptions to films, sports events, e-books, video games music streaming service when travelling within the EU the same way they access them at home. Up until recently, many online streaming and on-demand services were tailored to individual markets with different content available in each EU Member State. However, under the new rules consumers will be able to log in to their own personal accounts while travelling in the EU and continue to view their favourite movies and television shows as if they were at home.
All providers who offer paid online content services will have to follow the new rules, while providers of free content (such as the online services of public TV or radio broadcasters) will have the possibility to decide to also provide portability to their subscribers. Providers of online content will also benefit from the new rules as it will no longer be necessary for them to acquire licences for other territories where their subscribers are travelling to.
The portability regulation is applicable in all EU Member States from 1 April 2018. Further information on the Regulation can be found on the European Commission website.