Political agreement reached on controversial EU Digital Copyright Directive: A fair and balanced result?

Following a turbulent course of lengthy negotiations and delays, political agreement was finally reached by the European Commission, European Parliament and the Council of the EU on the revised proposal of the EU Copyright Directive (the “Directive“) earlier this month. The final consolidated text was made available on 20 February 2019.

The Commission first adopted its proposal for the Directive back in September 2016, as part of its Digital Single Market Strategy. The Directive forms part of a broader initiative to “adapt copyright rules” to ensure they are “fit for a digital era“. The modernisation is long overdue, given the changes which have occurred in the use of material on the internet since its inception, including the explosion of social media.

The Directive is intended to develop a fair and sustainable marketplace for creators, the creative industries and the press; to this end, in the Commission’s press release, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip, referred to the Directive as a “fair and balanced result that is fit for a digital Europe“. The European Parliament’s press release also refers to the Directive re-dressing the balance; ensuring “tech giants” share revenue with “artists and journalists” and also incentivising internet platforms to enter into fair licensing arrangements with rights holders.

The legislation has, however, been the subject of considerable lobbying and public pressure by copyright holders, technology companies and consumer digital rights advocates, which is unsurprising, given the vast array of stakeholder interests at play. In particular it has implications for online platforms and media companies. We set out below further detail around the more contentious provisions, Articles 13 and 11, and discuss the next steps for the legislation. Continue reading

No more unjustified geo-blocking in the EU

The EU geo-blocking Regulation (Regulation 2018/302 of 28 February 2018) (the Regulation) comes into force on 3 December 2018. The Regulation aims to remove barriers to cross-border trade and enable consumers to purchase goods and services from businesses located in different Member States on equal terms to nationals of that Member State. Businesses selling online in the EU, regardless of where they are based, will need to make sure that their terms and conditions, including payment methods, do not discriminate against online customers on the basis of their nationality, place of residence or place of establishment.

Ending unjustified geo-blocking has been an important goal for the Commission under its Digital Single Market initiative which aims to break down barriers to cross-border online activity and remove key differences between online and offline markets. Other measures which are aimed at promoting cross-border e-commerce in the EU include:

  • a new Regulation on cross-border parcel delivery services making pricing more transparent and affordable (which came into effect on 22 May 2018);
  • new rules to reduce the VAT related administrative burden of cross-border transactions (which come into effect in January 2021);
  • a new revised Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation (which will take effect from 17 January 2020) which will allow national authorities to cooperate to jointly address breaches of consumer law with a cross-border element.

Please click here to read more.

Scientific opinion commissioned by the European Commission makes ten recommendations on cyber security in the Digital Single Market

On 24 March 2017, the European Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism published an independent scientific opinion on cyber security in the Digital Single Market to aid EU-level policy makers. The opinion includes ten broad recommendations for simplifying and securing online operations undertaken by people and businesses throughout the EU Continue reading

New EU content portability regime agreed with concerns still remaining about its potential impact on territorial licensing models

Agreement was reached by the European Parliament, the Member States and the European Commission on Tuesday 7 February 2017 in respect of a new regulation to enable cross-border content portability. From 2018, EU citizens will be able to make full use of their paid online content services (across film, sport, television, music, e-books and gaming) wherever they are in the EU.

Continue reading