Europe changes copyright and related law

    If you plan to direct your stops to Europe and want to protect know-how, then this article will probably interest you. Discussions are still ongoing in the EU regarding the modernization of legislation in the field of copyright and related rights, which should contribute to the effective functioning of a single digital market, the strategy of which was introduced in 2015. This proposal is due to the need to bring legislation in this area to a level that complies with the rules of the digital age.

    Proponents of the reform say that the project will help European creative companies to actively develop in the Single Digital Market, and it will be easier for European authors to gain a new audience not only in the EU, but also outside it.

    So, according to the official website of the single digital market (Digital Single Market ), the main objectives of this proposal are: free cross-border access to online content in the EU; wide opportunities for the use of copyrighted materials in the field of education, scientific research and cultural heritage; improving the functioning of the copyright market; increase in the number of materials for visually impaired and people with limited ability to perceive printed information. The idea of ​​the project is to ensure a balance between copyright and relevant public policy goals: education, research, innovation and the needs of people with disabilities.

    In general, experts support the proposal for reform, and the European Copyright Societyeven indicates that the proposed reform package will help to solve a number of problems of the current legislation identified by the Company.

    It sounds quite encouraging and acceptable for the existing society, but besides all the praises, there are pitfalls that cause disagreement.

    You can familiarize yourself with the essence of the changes and proposals by reading the article by another author at the link . And in my own article, I would like to talk specifically about the controversial moments of this reform, based on a document published by the European Copyright Society regarding this reform, and various interviews.

    Lack of ambition

    Despite the ambitious goals and fundamental objectives outlined in the preamble of the Directive, the reform package proposed by the Commission does not reflect a holistic vision of the future development of copyright in the European Union. The proposed reforms involve partial solutions that are not adapted to some of the existing and obsolete problems.

    Such a narrow approach is manifested in proposals for legal protection of authors and performers, as well as in the Provisions on exceptions. For example, according to Article 5, copying of objects of cultural heritage is allowed only for the purpose of their conservation, i.e. restoration of cultural heritage sites to prevent their destruction. However, it is not intended to make an exception for electronic libraries, archives and museums, which still do not have an official right to digitize such protected objects.

    Obviously, now there is a need for a clear legislative formulation of certain rights, and it is necessary to take into account the current level of development of technology and the economy.

    Uncertain limitations of data and text collection

    The proposed exception for collecting data and text (Research organizations with legal access to works and other protected objects are entitled to perform in-depth analysis of texts and data for the purpose of scientific research.) Is applicable only where the research organization has legal access to the database. In addition, this item allows you to charge for data-mining, although many scientific organizations will not be able to purchase licenses for all relevant databases. It also raised the question of whether commercial data-mining might suddenly be outlawed.

    The point is even more problematic, according to which the presence of an “appropriate license” can block the exception to teaching directly (by deprivation of a license) or indirectly (by establishing excessive and unfair licensing conditions). Rightholders are also free to refuse such access or restrict it to the conditions. As the experience of implementing such a provision in Germany (§ 52a UrhG) shows, even professional educational institutions may not always comply with this rule.

    Even earlier studies showed that copyright is too restrictive for teachers, and the fragmented legal structure in Europe creates some uncertainty for them. However, the commission failed to provide a suitable solution to this problem. In this regard, the International Public Domain Association even organized a petition to amend the proposed provisions in favor of educational and cultural institutions, including museums, libraries and non-governmental organizations.

    Fragmentation approach

    Existing copyright laws already include at least ten directives. These directives describe copyright in the EU in different and sometimes conflicting provisions. Instead of reviewing the existing structure, the commission decided to propose two additional directives and two new rules, which could lead to inconsistency and further fragmentation of legislation in this area.


    The commission’s proposal is generally consistent with the legislative consultation process, impact assessment and proposed legislation, but there is no solid scientific (economic) evidence. It is not known why the commission did not decide to study the economic feasibility and possible consequences of such an innovation, because the proposed changes will lead to a completely new look at intellectual property rights, and will also have an obvious impact on the situation in a single digital market.

    Related News Rights

    One of the controversial provisions of the bill is the additional legal protection of the online use of fragments of journalistic content. This provision may be applicable to link previews of news articles generated by news aggregators like Google News or social networks. But this can lead to a disproportionate impact on startups in the field of news aggregation and / or monitoring of the media space.

    Google has already warned that a change in legislation could result in reduced traffic to media sites, which will inevitably reduce media revenue from online advertising.

    An example of this already exists: in 2014, Germany passed a law requiring news aggregators to pay media publishers for content. Google suggested that the media either refer to their texts for free, or exclude their sites from the news aggregator. Axel Springer Publishing House banned the search engine from linking to its media articles - and their sites lost more than 70% of their traffic. Axel Springer had no choice but to allow Google to link to texts for free.

    Content Monitoring

    The next controversial provision of the bill is the requirement for websites to monitor user behavior in order to identify and prevent copyright infringement. That is, do not view reports after the publication of the content, but pre-scan the data uploaded to the site in order to immediately prevent violations.

    Critics point out that this increases the risk of abuse of surveillance tools, and that demanding indiscriminate monitoring of network activity of citizens is a disproportionate measure, and therefore violates the fundamental rights to privacy.


    As we see, the proposed reform, in spite of the goals pursued, has a number of aspects that should be considered in more detail. Even parliamentarian Julia Reda, one of the initiators of this reform, began to struggle with some of the proposals made, which, in her opinion, could lead to additional restrictions on the rights and freedoms of network users, as well as jeopardize regional startups.

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