EU Parliament Passes Digital
Tech giants must pay for work of
artists and journalists which they use
Small and micro platforms excluded
from directive’s scope
Hyperlinks, “accompanied by
“individual words” can be shared freely
Journalists must get a share of
any copyright-related remuneration obtained by their publishing house
adopted its revised negotiating position on copyright rules on
Wednesday, adding safeguards to protect small firms and freedom of
Parliament’s position for talks with member states to hammer out a final
deal was approved by 438 votes to 226, with 39 abstentions. It makes
some important tweaks to the June committee proposal.
Tech giants to share revenue with artists and journalists
Many of Parliament’s changes to the EU Commission’s original proposal
aim to make certain that artists, notably musicians, performers and
script authors, as well as news publishers and journalists, are paid for
their work when it is used by sharing platforms such as YouTube or
Facebook, and news aggregators such as Google News.
After the vote, rapporteur Axel Voss (EPP, DE) said, “I am very glad
that despite the very strong lobbying campaign by the internet giants,
there is now a majority in the full house backing the need to protect
the principle of fair pay for European creatives.
There has been much heated debate around this directive and I believe
that Parliament has listened carefully to the concerns raised. Thus, we
have addressed concerns raised about innovation by excluding small and
micro platforms or aggregators from the scope.
I am convinced that once the dust has settled, the internet will be as
free as it is today, creators and journalists will be earning a fairer
share of the revenues generated by their works, and we will be wondering
what all the fuss was about.”
Fair pay for artists and journalists while encouraging start-ups
Parliament’s position toughens the Commission’s proposed plans to make
online platforms and aggregators liable for copyright infringements.
This would also apply to snippets, where only a small part of a news
publisher’s text is displayed. In practice, this liability requires
these parties to pay right holders for copyrighted material that they
make available. Parliament’s text also specifically requires that
journalists themselves, and not just their publishing houses, benefit
from remuneration stemming from this liability requirement.
At the same time, in an attempt to encourage start-ups and innovation,
the text now exempts small and micro platforms from the directive.
Protecting freedom of expression
The text includes provisions
to ensure that copyright law is observed online without unfairly
hampering the freedom of expression that has come to define the
Thus, merely sharing hyperlinks to articles, together with “individual
words” to describe them, will be free of copyright constraints.
Any action taken by platforms to check that uploads do not breach
copyright rules must be designed in such a way as to avoid catching
“non-infringing works”. These platforms will moreover be required to
establish rapid redress systems (operated by the platform’s staff, not
algorithms) through which complaints can be lodged when an upload is
wrongly taken down.
Wikipedia and open source software platforms will not be affected
The text also specifies that uploading to online encyclopaedias in a
non-commercial way, such as Wikipedia, or open source software
platforms, such as GitHub, will automatically be excluded from the
requirement to comply with copyright rules.
Stronger negotiating rights for authors and performers
Parliament’s text also strengthens the negotiating rights of authors and
performers, by enabling them to “claim” additional remuneration from the
party exploiting their rights when the remuneration originally agreed is
“disproportionately” low compared to the benefits derived.
The text adds that these benefits should include “indirect revenues”. It
would also empower authors and performers to revoke or terminate the
exclusivity of an exploitation licence for their work if the party
holding the exploitation rights is deemed not to be exercising this
on the European Parliament's vote on the Copyrght directive, techUK's
Head of Brexit, International and Economics, Giles Derrington, said:
"Today’s vote on the Copyright directive is hugely disappointing and
represents a setback for an innovation-led European economy. Far from
advancing the European digital economy through the Digital Single
Market, the proposals adopted by the European Parliament today will lead
to significant additional burdens on companies seeking to serve the
European market. It is bad news, not just for UK digital businesses, but
also for the general public who now risk seeing their freedoms online
"While the aims of the Copyright directive proposals were
understandable, the method that has been adopted will not achieve the
stated objectives. Requirements for platforms to filter all user
uploaded content will likely result in a reduced user experience and the
over-removal of legitimate content. The creation of a new neighbouring
right for press publishers will make sharing news articles online more
difficult, making it harder for the public to find good quality
journalism online. Today was also a lost opportunity to make Europe a
more attractive place for Artificial Intelligence development. Instead,
fragmented rules across the EU will mean a confusing picture on where
text and data mining technologies are allowed.
"The proposals will now enter interinstitutional negotiations with the
European Commission and European Council where there is an opportunity
for further compromise. techUK urges the negotiators to take any steps
possible to protect the open internet during these discussions.
"To be clear, the UK leaving the European Union will not protect UK
businesses from these new requirements. Any UK business seeking to serve
the EU market will have to comply with the directive which, given the
size and importance of the EU market to UK businesses, will be a
significant barrier to market entry."