The EU copyright rules, which aims to modernize online content rights has been finally validated, Monday, April 15, after a vote of ministers of the European Union.
The controversial reform of European copyright law was finally validated on Monday, April 15 with a final vote of EU ministers meeting in Luxembourg, the end point of more than two years of procedure.
This last step had to be a formality after very difficult negotiations on this reform against the backdrop of unprecedented lobbying on the part of its supporters as well as its opponents. Six countries still voted against, according to a European source: Italy, Finland, Sweden, Luxembourg, Poland and the Netherlands. A minority, however, insufficient to block the text. Belgium, Estonia and Slovenia also abstained.
In a statement from the Council of the European Union, the Romanian Minister Valer Daniel Breaz, whose country holds the rotating presidency, welcomed a “balanced text, creating multiple opportunities for the European creative sectors, which will prosper and will better reflect our cultural diversity and other common European values, but also for users, whose freedom of expression on the Internet will be enhanced”.
The EU have two 24 months to transpose these new rules into their legislations
Once published in the Official Journal of the European Union, Member States will have 24 months to transpose the new rules into their national laws.
The reform received the green light from MEPs at the end of March, in a divided hemicycle (348 votes in favor, 274 against and 26 abstentions).
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also welcomed the end of this procedure launched in September 2016, when the European executive presented this reform with significant financial stakes. “Europe will now have clear rules that will guarantee fair remuneration for creators, strong rights for users and responsibility for platforms,” said Jean-Claude Juncker in a statement.
Article 13 accused of censorship
Two articles were in the crosshairs of the opponents. The “13” aims to strengthen the bargaining position of creators and rights holders (composers, artists …) against platforms like YouTube or Tumblr, which use their content. Some fear the use of automatic download filters, accused by supporters of freedom on the internet to open the door to a form of censorship.
“The entertainment lobby will not stop there, for the next two years it will lobby for applications at the national level that ignore the fundamental rights of users. It will be more important than ever for civil society to keep up the pressure in the Member States,” reacted on Twitter MEP Julia Reda of the Pirate party and figurehead of the opponents.
Article 11 calls for Google News or Facebook to pay the content producers whose content they use on their platform. The other controversial article, the “11”, advocates the creation of a “neighboring right” of copyright for newspaper publishers. It allows news outlets to be better paid for online reuse of their production by aggregators of information, such as Google News, or social networks, such as Facebook.
For its part, the ICC Europe, representative of the lobby of the digital industry in Brussels, denounced a “disproportionate” text.
“We are concerned that this will hurt online innovation and restrict online freedoms in Europe. We urge the Member States to thoroughly assess and try to minimize the consequences of the text when it is implemented,” said Maud Sacquet, CCIA, in a statement.