For or against the reform of the directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market ?

Numéro 1

Learn the ropes

What is the current protection level for Copyright in Europe?
The currently implemented Copyright Directive was adopted in 2001.

The Copyright Directive protects the rights creators have over their creative works, including sectors such as music, cinema, journalism, photography, fashion, software, etc. It also protects people benefiting from a part of these rights, such as for example the rights’ inheritors, recording companies, legal entities or people who bought parts of the creator’s original rights.

For some time, progress of digital technologies has been modifying the status of creators and their use of Internet to display their works. Creation of platforms such as YouTube or other social networks deeply transformed the way in which the authors’ works are broadcasted and used. The authors can reach a much wider audience than in 2001, when the Directive was adopted, which strongly changed the economic model used by companies from the creative industries sector.

Today, these changes benefit mostly to big digital platforms, such as Google, Facebook or YouTube.

What does the reform aim to achieve?
In September 2016, The European Commission presented a reform proposal for the Copyright Directive, willing to adapt copyright protection to the reality of a digitised society. Two years later, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted in favor of the revision of Copyright protection. What is the main objective? Ensure better remuneration for the creators, while safeguarding freedom of speech and creation. The reform targets mainly big content-sharing platforms (social networks, online video services). Two of the Directive’s articles became famous:
  • Article 11 : Website owners would have to pay for displaying previews and snippets of a third party user on their website
  • Article 13 : User-generated content platforms would now be responsible for copyright infringement (currently, the only obligation for the platforms is to control the content once it was reported). It means that the platforms would have to verify the nature of the content uploaded by their users.
Why do we talk about it today?
After the announce of the European Commission, Google and YouTube started a huge campaign against the reform. Several firms reacted in a common press release and accused the internet giants of running a lobbying and misinformation campaign.

Through this campaign they remind the EU how important it is to keep the reform as it stands, in order to rebalance value sharing between the platforms and cultural and creative industries.

Moreover, some are worried about the revision’s impact on the content producers and on the liberty to create. Many searchers and observers question themselves about the regulatory authorities or algorithms used for the control.

Numéro 2

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The idea behind the Rift is simple: for each topic of debate, we provide you with an expertise based on a pro-con approach, written by competent and legitimate experts. We want to help you make your own opinion, and guide you on first steps to civic engagement.
What is your opinion before reading the article?


Copyright rules are not the enemy of citizens, but the enemy of the Internet giant’s avarice

Marc Joulaud

Member of the European Parliament (PPE), Rapporteur for Committee on Culture and Education for the new Copyright Directive’s proposal

The European legislation on Copyright and Internet services entered into force in the early 00s, long before the popularisation of big digital platforms, such as YouTube, making possible a large-scale share of the content uploaded by the users.

These platforms largely share and benefit from other’s creation

It would be an euphemism to say that is it time to adapt the rules to digitisation, as the principal stake is to increase responsibilisation of the platforms. They largely share and benefit  from other’s creation without paying them. They can also use their dominant position to enforce their law on users. Their business model relies on law abuse in order to avoid accountability for their actions. They also use other’s content as bait, in order to attract advertising revenues and personal data.

The creators saw their revenues shrunk in the last two decades. They are more and more dependent on revenues generated online, which puts them in a position of weakness comparing to the platforms. Moreover, the development of legal offers (such as Spotify for instance) suffers from unfair competition from these big platforms, which are sharing content without remunerating the authors.

The Directive on Copyright in the Digital SIngle Market rectifies this situation by clarifying that these platforms are responsible of their content and so they have to pass agreements with the authors to pay them and to help them fighting against unlawful use of their services.

The Directive modernises the exceptions and recognises a protection

But the Directive does not only limit to that: it modernises the exceptions benefiting to  research, education and cultural heritage sectors. It recognises a protection for use of articles by aggregators and it strengthens contractual rights of the authors towards their partners, both protections being very important for the press.

Knowing that their cause is impossible to advocate, the platforms and their allies used unprecedented means to prove that this Directive is a threat for freedom of speech of citizens. According to their lobbying campaign, Europe, journalists and artists would plot together to create a censorship regime similar to the one described in Orwell’s 1984. A common sense is enough to see the absurdity of these arguments. If there was room for legitimate worries, we have answered them by integrating all possible safeguards and guarantees to the reform proposal, in order to make sure that the citizens will be able to use Internet in the same way as before.

Everyone will be able to continue to share press articles or memes. The only difference will be the fact that the authors will be paid, and that they will be able to make a living of their passion, for the benefit of all.


The Copyright reform forgets the consumers 

Ursula Pachl

Deputy General Director of the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) L

The consumers love to share content online. The rise of Facebook, Vimeo, and others transformed internet in an expression space, making it possible for consumers to easily share their digital creation with others.

Today people are used to make a video from their holidays, or a video showing the first steps of their child with a well-known music tube in the background. They will then publish it on the internet, giving their friends the possibility to watch or to comment. This culture of likes and shares contributed to the large popularity of internet.

Our concern: disappearing of the perfectly legal content

Unfortunately, we fear that all these popular activities would become impossible in case the article 13 of the proposal is adopted. If this proposal becomes law, many consumers could not upload their leisure creations – for non-commercial use – precisely because of copyright rules.

As a matter of fact, this is a possible risk. In order to comply with the new European legislation resulting from this proposal, the internet platforms sharing user-generated content would not have any other solution than to automatically filter each material uploaded to their services. As it has been proven by recent examples, the automatic filters are not intelligent enough to distinguish legal content from content infringing copyright rules. A generalised use of filters would make the perfectly legal content disappear – such as videos from holidays.

Consumers need to be protected

Try to imagine how would the internet look like if consumers wouldn’t have the possibility to share, to comment and to react to the content of their friends.

Instead of being discarded and becoming collateral damages of an economic war between platforms and right owners, the consumers should be protected by the rules applicable to copyright. This would be possible by introducing an exception to the rule, targeting content generated by the user. It would be a safeguard measure allowing consumers to upload non-commercial content.

BEUC shares the opinion according to which the work of authors and creators should be paid in a fair and equal way. Nonetheless, this objective should not be reached to the detriment of the consumer’s experience of internet, nor of their liberty of creation. A modern copyright legislation is supposed to benefit as well to creators, as to consumers.

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