The copyright reform focuses on three main objectives:
- More cross-border access for citizens to copyright-protected content online.
- Wider opportunities to use copyrighted material for education, research, cultural heritage and disability (through so-called "exceptions").
- Fair rules of the game for a better functioning copyright marketplace, which stimulates creation of high-quality content.
The Commission wants to reinforce the position of rights holders to negotiate and be remunerated for the online use of their content.
The main objective of Article 13 of the proposed rules is to allow content creators and other rights holders to negotiate with online services and content distributors how their work is used and shared online. This will give creators, authors and rights holders the possibility to better control the use of their work and be fairly remunerated.
This obligation would only concern user-uploaded content platforms that have become major sources of access to copyright protected content which they financially profit from, in the form of advertisements, often without the consent of rights holders.
In practice, big online platforms which store and provide access to large amounts of user-uploaded content (i.e. platforms that are widely used to upload videos, photos, music and text) would be asked to put in place, in collaboration with right holders, adequate and proportionate technical measures. These measures will allow them to implement agreements reached on the use of copyright-protected content, or to prevent the dissemination of infringing content, if the right holders prefer so.
Contractual partners of creators will have to share with creators' information on the exploitation of their works and performances. This also includes a mechanism under which creators can request and obtain a fair share when the remuneration originally agreed becomes disproportionately low compared to the revenues generated by the use of their works.
If agreements are concluded with rights holders, the measures would help them to get an appropriate remuneration for the use of their works. If no such agreements exist, rights holders would need to provide the services with metadata of their content (e.g. "fingerprints") to prevent the upload of specific unauthorised content. If no such metadata is provided to the platforms, they can allow the content to be freely uploaded by the users.
We aim to reinforce the position of right-holders to negotiate and be remunerated for the online use of their content by online platforms.
Our proposal is not targeting users and their capacity to upload content; it addresses platforms with large amounts of user-uploaded content which have become major sources of access to copyright-protected content. We need to ensure that those who create and invest in content have a say in whether and how their content is made available by the platforms and enjoy a fair share of the financial rewards drawn from their content.
The Commission proposal requires platforms which store and provide access to large amounts of copyright-protected content uploaded by their users to put in place effective and proportionate measures. This, in collaboration with the right-holders to allow the functioning of agreements reached on the use of copyright-protected content, or to prevent the availability of unauthorised content if right-holders prefer not to have their content available on such platforms.
Our proposal is not targeting users and their possibility to upload content. The platforms would not have to actively monitor all the content uploaded by users.
The proposal addresses a specific problem: the limited control of right holders over the use of their content and the remuneration by services storing and giving access to large amounts of copyright protected content that is uploaded by platform users.
Our proposal does not in any way limit the use of content under copyright exceptions (e.g. education, research) or free speech (e.g. parody and memes) on user-generated content platforms.
The aim of the proposal is to support an effective and balanced marketplace where platforms and rights holders can negotiate and agree on the use of copyright protected content.
The Commission is not banning memes, caricatures or any reuse of content allowed under exceptions or limitations to copyright.
Caricatures, parody or pastiche are protected by an optional exception - under Article 5(3)(k) of the 2001 InfoSoc Directive, allowing reproduction and communication of such content to the public and guaranteeing the authors' freedom of expression.
Article 13 of the proposed Copyright Directive will not affect the application of this exception: the parody exception is here to stay. The Commission's proposal only added the possibility for authors of memes or parodic content to tackle over-removal by online platforms through the mandatory redress mechanism included in the proposal. This means that in case parodic content is removed, the creators of this content will be able to contest the removal and ask the content to be published based on the parody exception in place.
Such complaint processes are already today widely used by all major online platforms.
6. What will happen to online encyclopaedias (like Wikipedia) that are based on content uploaded by users?
The copyright proposal targets major content sharing platforms that distribute content often without the consent from rights holders. This is not the case with online encyclopaedias that rely on user-generated content.
The contributors to Wikipedia are above all creators of their own entries, who own the rights to their contributions, made available under the creative commons license (enabling free distribution). Hence, the vast majority of the content on Wikipedia is uploaded with the consent of their rights holders.
Article 13 of our proposal does not target services similar to Wikipedia.
The publishers' right proposed by the Commission aims to strengthen the bargaining position of publishers when they negotiate the use of their content with online services.
We want the press industry to benefit from a fairer market place and the best possible environment to develop innovative business models, so it can continue offering quality content online.
The basic principles of what is protected by copyright will not change, and are already set in the Information Society Directive (2001/29/EC).
As a consequence, the Commission's proposal will not change the way hyperlinks are used by individual users. Hyperlinks, especially to freely available content, are not protected by copyright. The Commission’s proposal clearly excludes those acts of hyperlinking from the new protection granted to press publishers (outlined in recital 33 of the proposed Directive).
The Commission is not creating a "hyperlink tax". The Commission made clear in its proposal that the publishers' right will not affect people's ability to share content on social media and link to websites and newspapers.
The Commission has proposed a new related right for press publishers for the use of their publications in digital environments in Article 11. This will strengthen the bargaining position of publishers when they negotiate the use of their content with online services. Granting such rights to press publishers would not change what users can do today with press publications.
The rules on snippets will not change. They can be used and shared under the same copyright rules as today i.e. without requiring an authorisation if the snippet is not considered a self-standing original work (in practice at least an understandable sentence). In addition, the sharing of hyperlinks is not affected by the proposal, this is made very clear in the text.