EU Copyright Directive is a step in the right direction but still needs to be improved


The first copyright law reform in the EU in almost two decades is designed to give authors, artists, musicians, journalists and publishers a better chance of being paid when their work appears on the internet. A final draft of the new EU Copyright Directive was approved on Wednesday night in Strasbourg. It now needs approval by EU governments at meeting that is likely to be next week and will then be voted on by the European Parliament in March or April.

“The Directive offers improved rewards for all authors, including reporters, feature writers and photographers. It is not perfect – but it is remarkable that it has survived an onslaught of often-paranoid arguments from groups that, strangely, back the profits of monopoly internet corporations over the interests of the creators on whose work those profits depend,” said Mike Holderness (NUJ), Chair of the EFJ Authors’ Rights Expert Group. “We now need to work hard to counter the onslaught they will launch on the European Parliament for the final vote – and to make sure it is implemented well by Member States.”

“The proposed Directive introduces for the first time a remuneration for authors for the use of their work online. It was about time that we get tools to license authors’ rights protected material when used on aggregators, social media and other platforms provided by the high-tech companies, said Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, President of EFJ. “The new proposal does introduce the principle of an appropriate and proportionate remuneration for all authors, including journalists, place transparency obligations on the industries and open up the possibility of alternative dispute mechanisms which could avoid lengthy and expensive court cases. It also allows authors to be represented by their unions in that process. For the European Federation of Journalists I welcome that very much.”

Mogens Blicher Bjerregård also welcomes the new article 9a which safeguards extended licensing models as they could be models for future licensing in the digital area to ensure remuneration of journalists and other authors. “This is a visionary approach with a lot of possibilities to make licensing easy and smooth for both right-holders and users.”

The President of EFJ addresses that publishers and journalists have agreed, that the new publishers’ rights will ensure a fair and proportionate distribution of revenue between publishers and journalists. “We have to clarify provisions and proposals contained in article 11 and recital 35 of the text both in the final directive and in future national implementation of this directive in order to support authors in the press sector in obtaining fair and proportionate remuneration for the use of their work online.”

“We all have a huge job in front of us when implementing the directive,” concluded EFJ President. “We need a close cooperation among all the stakeholders in particular because it is in the interest of all of us that we will be able to use the tools provided in the directive to bring the digital platforms to the table for negotiation and to pay authors for the use of their work.”

The EFJ welcomed today the Swiss proposed legislation imposing online platforms to pay journalists and publishers for the use of editorial content online. The new law has been proposed following an agreement between Swiss journalists’ unions and Swiss publishers’ organisations.

Picture credit: IFJ.