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