2018

Statement on European Parliament vote on the copyright directive

British Copyright Council calls on MEPs to keep crucial reforms on track.

The British Copyright Council is disappointed that MEPs have voted today to delay approval of their Legal Affairs Committee’s report on the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive. EU copyright laws, which were last made before online services such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter existed, are in urgent need of updating for the digital era to enable a fair and sustainable future for creativity.

We have seen an intense campaign against certain reforms (particularly Articles 11 and 13) that would ensure respect for right-holders and properly value content on which the digital world thrives. However, the British Copyright Council believes that the directive need not be divisive: a careful reading of the text shows the purported fears of some internet users and multinational corporations to be simply misconceived, and that the interests of individuals are expressly balanced against those of right-holders.

As MEPs review the draft directive ahead of debate at the next plenary, they will be reassured that it introduces no new restrictions or responsibilities on users, seeking only to make commercial content-sharing companies accountable for the use of copyright works on their platforms. Where these companies buy licences that pay right-holders for use of their work online, individuals can upload content just as before. Likewise, users will remain free to share links to articles (hyperlinking being explicitly excluded from the scope of the directive).

Refinements to the package of proposals may be needed and may come in trilogue negotiations but we trust that, after the opportunity for renewed consideration, MEPs will recognise the best way to promote expression, innovation, fairness and prosperity in the digital age is to support this directive when they meet again in September and work together to achieve its adoption by the end of 2018.

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