On 14 September 2016, the European Commission (the ‘Commission’) put forward a revamped framework of EU copyright rules which complement the proposed regulation on portability of legal content and the revised Audiovisual Media Service Directive. Later on this year the Commission plans to improve enforcement of copyright, as well as, all other categories of intellectual property rights. The proposed new EU copyright framework is part of the Digital Single Market Strategy.

The Commission sets out three proposals with the following priorities:

  • Improving choice and access to online content and across borders

The proposed Copyright Directive aims at giving broadcasters the opportunity to obtain consent when necessary from right holders, in order to transmit programs online in other EU Member States. The idea is to give more choice to consumers by empowering broadcasters to have a variety of their programs shown in other Member States. Such a legal mechanism works in such a way that, operators offering packages of channels which originate from other EU Member States, may obtain licenses from collective management organisations representing right holders, in contrast to the present requirement of having to individually negotiate a deal with every right holder.

In order to enhance Video-on-Demand (VoD) contributions in Europe, the Commission asks Member States to set up negotiation bodies to assist in reaching licensing deals between audiovisual right holders and VoD platforms.

In an effort to make access easier to those works which are no longer available to the public but still protected by copyright, the proposed Copyright Directive will help museums, archives and other institutions to convert books and films into digital format, including cross-border out-of commerce work.

  • Enhancing copyright rules on education, research, cultural heritage and inclusion of disabled people

The position of right holders to negotiate and be remunerated for the exploitation of their content online through video-sharing platforms such as YouTube, are also to be tackled by the proposed Copyright Directive. Such platforms will have the duty to set up some form of technology which will automatically detect songs or audiovisual works which right holders would have specified and would have reached an agreement with the particular platform in question to authorise or remove.

Among other things, the Commission proposed the introduction of a mandatory EU exception authorising cultural heritage institutions to preserve works digitally, which would make access by the public, to such data, easier in the long term.

The Commission is also proposing legislation in order to implement the Marrakesh Treaty facilitating access to published works for persons who are visually impaired or print disabled. This proposal shall, in particular, allow for the exchange of accessible format copies within the EU and third countries which are parties to the Treaty, in order to avoid the duplication of work and waste of resources.

  • A fairer and sustainable marketplace for creators, the creative industries and the press

The Commission also plans to introduce a related right, similar to that for film producers, record (phonogram) producers and so forth, for the benefit of publishers, in order to better cater for their rights, in relation to licensing and enforcement due to the substantial shift made from print to digital and online services. Such a right means that publishers will be recognised as right holders for the first time, giving them the particular advantage of being able to negotiate the use and access to their content.

Publishers and producers also have duties under the proposed Copyright Directive such as having to be transparent and inform authors or performers about profits they made through their works. A mechanism is also proposed to assist authors and performers negotiate fair remuneration with producers and publishers.