Copyright reform in favour of free press and Europe’s creators

In our daily lives, we enjoy rights to our property that prevent others from misusing it. At the same time, our lives are becoming more and more digital. We can now work, study, shop and entertain ourselves in a couple of clicks. Despite this digital revolution, intellectual property has until now not been properly guaranteed in the online world. This is why the EPP Group was targeted by expensive campaigns by big tech players when we fought for the Copyright Directive to make the same property rules apply offline and online. Only fair remuneration for journalists, authors and creators will guarantee high-quality media and online content in Europe.

Because the EU is about the free movement of people, we also passed a law making sure that Europeans can enjoy the same TV, radio and pre-paid online services anywhere they go in the EU. At the same time, we thought about people with disabilities and helped to introduce an exception from the copyright rules on books in formats adapted to their needs.

1. Fair remuneration for journalists and creators

With the rise of Internet platforms where users directly uploaded and publicly shared content, the way news and information was consumed dramatically changed. Platforms started making money off content they did not legally own while claiming they were only passively hosting the content. Journalists were not fairly compensated by online platforms and news aggregators: almost 50% of online users read articles on platforms other than publishers’ websites and 200 online users can access content for the equivalent of the price of one print newspaper.

Until now, 19 year-old EU rules assumed that online platforms hosting news, videos, music or other content made by others are not responsible for what users upload on their pages. Platforms were taking advantage of these uploads by increasing the popularity of their pages and generating high revenues through advertisement while creators of the appealing content were not getting a fair share of the revenues. In order to safeguard free, independent and pluralistic press, as well as ensure authors and creators can earn a decent living from their work, this had to change. With the Copyright Directive, adopted under our leadership, authors, journalists and publishers will now have the right to remuneration from platforms and news aggregators if these use their creative work. The Directive makes sure that platforms conclude licensing agreements on new content users upload and share their profit with creators. The new rules only cover platforms whose business model is to make money off copyrighted content. Platforms with a different main purpose (e.g. Wikipedia, Dropbox, Ebay, and Tinder) do not fall under the rules.

2. Internet users benefitting from clarity on copyright online

The Copyright Directive does not change the rules of the game: what was legal to post before the Directive will remain legal to post after the Directive. If it is uploaded illegally, licence holders will only be given a stronger voice to change it.

Users will actually be more protected by the rules. Copyright agreements concluded between platforms and right holders will exclude users from being liable for copyright infringements.

Unlike now, the new rules specify that citation, quotation or parody have to stay up. On top of that, if users disagree that content they uploaded is blocked, they will have the possibility to complain via a redress mechanism which platforms will have to provide for.

Europeans will also benefit from results research and technology using text and data mining, which are clearly excluded from the copyright rules, will bring them.

3. Watching your TV programmes and listening to your radio stations everywhere in Europe

Thanks to the Schengen area which is free of borders, Europeans are more and more mobile. With the internal market, when travelling, they can enjoy many things abroad that they are used to in their home country. It has, however, not been the case for online TV programmes and radios. With the new EU legislation on television and radio programmes, radio channels, news, current affairs programmes and in-house programmes aired online in one country will be more accessible via the Internet around the EU. While we fully supported these new facilitated licencing rules for European broadcasters, we also made sure that the legislation does not threaten European filmmakers who will still get paid if their films are broadcast abroad.

As of April 2018, Europeans can also access films, sports broadcasts, music, e-books or games they are subscribed to in their home country when they travel or stay temporarily in another EU country thanks to the rules on portability of online content services the EPP Group helped to adopt in the European Parliament.

4. Books accessible to people with disabilities

We helped to adapt EU copyright rules to international standards to allow visually impaired people and people with reading disabilities have better access to books. Special formats of books and print material will be exempt from the EU copyright rules so that people who need them can read or listen to books and other print material in accessible formats of braille, audio books or e-books from across the EU and third countries.

Thanks to the efforts of the EPP Group, major EU legislation which changed the way creators and journalists are remunerated for their work was adopted. We made rules publically accepted in the offline world truly applicable in the online life of Europeans. We also made sure that people can be fully mobile and enjoy entertainment they know from home all around the EU so that they won’t miss their favourite football match or a TV show. While modernising the EU legal framework for copyright, we paid special attention to blind people and people with reading disabilities who will enjoy unlimited access to books in the formats they need.

Related Working Group

Legal & home affairs

Economy, jobs & the environment