EU adopts controversial copyright reform

Written by Martin Banks on 17 April 2019 in News
News

Europe’s press publishers have welcomed the adoption by the council of the long-awaited EU copyright reform that introduces a “crucial” neighbouring right for press publishers.

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The issue sparked a fierce and long running debate and member states must now implement the reform into national law by 2021.

The decision, on Monday, to formally adopt the draft law was greeted by an informal alliance of groups representing the European Magazine Media Association (EMMA), the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association (ENPA), the European Publishers’ Council (EPC) and News Media Europe (NME).

Commenting on the move, Carlo Perrone, President of ENPA, said: “Now that the copyright directive has been approved by all European Institutions, we call on Member States to implement this reform quickly. There is no time to wait. We urgently need the Publisher’s Right to improve press publishers’ bargaining position in the digital environment and protect them against the unauthorised commercial use of their press publications.”


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Further reaction came from Christian Van Thillo, chairman of the EPC, who said: “This important reform will help make the EU copyright regime fit for the digital age without stifling digital innovation. As press publishers, we would like to thank Europe’s regulators for adopting this important directive that acknowledges the value of the press to society and the need for fair remuneration for the commercial re-use of our intellectual property.”

“This is a deeply disappointing result which will have a far-reaching and negative impact on freedom of speech and expression online” Catherine Stihler, CEO of Open Knowledge Foundation

Xavier Bouckaert, president of EMMA, said: “Publishers of all sizes and other creators will now have the right to set terms and conditions for others to re-use their content commercially, as is only fair and appropriate”. While Fernando de Yarza Lopez Madrazo, president of News Media Europe (NME), said: “This directive will help forge a healthier working relationship between creators and platforms and will help news publishers continue to invest in the creation of fact-checked, professional content to enrich the internet and benefit consumers.”

However, the council decision was branded as “deeply disappointing and is one that could impact on all internet users” by Open Knowledge Foundation.

Six countries voted against the proposal which was also opposed by 5 million people through a Europe-wide petition – Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Finland and Sweden.

Three more nations abstained and there were not enough votes for a blocking minority. The regulations are still expected to affect the UK despite Brexit. The proposal is expected to lead to the introduction of ‘filters’ on sites such as YouTube.

“Now that the copyright directive has been approved by all European Institutions, we call on Member States to implement this reform quickly” Carlo Perrone, President of ENPA

The Foundation said the “battle is not over”, with the European elections providing an opportunity to elect ‘open champions’.

Its chief executive Catherine Stihler, a former Scottish MEP, said: “This is a deeply disappointing result which will have a far-reaching and negative impact on freedom of speech and expression online. The controversial crackdown was not universally supported, and I applaud those national governments which took a stand and voted against it. We now risk the creation of a more closed society at the very time we should be using digital advances to build a more open world where knowledge creates power for the many, not the few. But the battle is not over.”

She added, “Next month’s European elections are an opportunity to elect a strong cohort of open champions at the European Parliament who will work to build a more open world.”

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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