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EU Council gives European Copyright Directive the final nod

By | Published on Monday 15 April 2019

European Commission

The EU Council – which is made up of a representative from each EU country – has given final approval to the European Copyright Directive, the very final stage of a process that seems to have had quite a few final stages already. All that remains now is for each EU member state to implement the new copyright laws. Which you could argue means that there are still at least another 27 final stages.

“It was a long road and we would like to thank everyone who contributed to the discussion”, says Helen Smith, head of pan-European independent label trade body IMPALA. “As a result, we now have a balanced text that sets a precedent for the rest of the world to follow, by putting citizens and creators at the heart of the reform and introducing clear rules for online platforms”.

Years in development, the new legislation includes a number of controversial elements. For the music industry, the controversial bit was article thirteen (actually article seventeen in the final version). That seeks to increase the liabilities of user-upload platforms like YouTube so to strengthen the negotiating hand of music companies when agreeing licensing deals with such sites.

Google argued that the new liabilities would force it to dramatically alter the YouTube business to the detriment of grassroots creators. Other critics argued that this and other parts of the directive would kill the internet entirely. But the music industry says it’s just about ensuring that copyright holders are properly compensated for their work, and the internet will be just fine.

“By adopting this landmark text, the EU has proved itself a leader in terms of delivering a fair, open and sustainable internet”, Smith goes on. “This text clarifies the position of platforms, building on European case law. It is a first of its kind, and sets an example for other countries across the globe”.

General Manager of European collecting society grouping GESAC, VĂ©ronique Desbrosses, adds: “This is a major achievement for European creators and their future in the digital environment. It is also a strong and encouraging message from the EU institutions, showing that they will not give in to the aggressive and irresponsible behaviour undertaken by the tech giants to intimidate politicians and to manipulate public opinion with scaremongering, astroturfing and misinformation spread on their own platforms”.

“The new Copyright Directive is a win-win policy achievement”, she goes on. “It ensures fair payment for creators, provides broader protection for consumers, favours start-ups and brings about a level playing field for small businesses. We thank all member states that have worked fiercely to adopt this legislation from the very beginning and also all those who adopted it today. European creators are proud of you for securing their future!”

EU member countries have two years to implement the new laws. France recently indicated that it could be the first to do so, via new anti-piracy legislation currently working its way through its parliament. The UK has previously suggested that it will adopt the new rules, whether or not it leaves the EU before the two year deadline is up.