The European Parliament has passed the digital copyright directive.
The Copyright in the Digital Single Market directive, which was proposed by German MEP Axel Voss, passed this morning in a plenary session by 348 to 274 votes, a majority of 74, with 36 abstentions.
Under the directive, news aggregators such as Facebook will be able to continue to use news “snippets” without permission from publishers, but only when this is a “very short extract” or “individual words”.
Beyond that, the directive includes provisions to protect copyright holders. It has not created any new rights for news publishers and journalists, but reinforces their existing rights and brings the internet in line with existing copyright law.
The legislation was first proposed in 2016 in response to the dominance of digital platforms and their use of copyrighted content without payment.
Under the directive, journalists must get a share of any copyright-related revenue obtained by their news publisher.
The expectation is that the directive will push the online platforms, such as Facebook and Google “to finally roll out a policy to fairly remunerate all those from whose work they make their money”, according to the EU.
Voss said: “This directive is an important step towards correcting a situation which has allowed a few companies to earn huge sums of money without properly remunerating the thousands of creatives and journalists whose work they depend on.
“At the same time, the adopted text contains numerous provisions that will guarantee that the internet remains a space for free expression.
These provisions were not in themselves necessary, because the directive will not be creating any new rights for rights holders. Yet we listened to the concerns raised and chose to doubly guarantee the freedom of expression.
“The ‘meme’, the ‘gif’, the ‘snippet’ are now protected more than ever before.”
Today’s vote marks the end of the legislative process for the European Parliament. European Union member states now have 24 months to create national law in line with the directive.
Sophie Goossens, counsel at law firm Reed Smith, said: “We can expect certain member states to introduce their own nuances and clarifications when doing so and so it will be interesting to observe how harmonised the position is across Europe at the end of the implementation period.”
Picture: European Parliament
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