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European Council adoption makes copyright directive definitive

The European Council has adopted the controversial new copyright directive. The adoption of the new rules, following the European Parliament’s endorsement, means that the directive must now be implemented in national law by member states over the next two years.

The directive is designed to ensure authors and artists are recompensed for their work but will see internet companies forced to ensure the removal of copyright material from their sites.

Online content sharing platforms will in principle have to obtain a licence for copyright protected works uploaded by users unless a number of conditions provided for in the directive are met.

The measure has been furiously resisted by platforms including YouTube. However, the Council maintained in its statement on the adoption of the directive that the new rules will enable rightsholders to better negotiate the conditions of the exploitation of their online works and be remunerated for the online use of their content by these platforms, while allowing platform users to continue to generate and upload content freely “for purposes of quotation, criticism, review, caricature, parody and pastiche”.

The directive also gives authors and artists the right to “appropriate and proportionate remuneration” for works distributed online.

“I am very glad that we have achieved a balanced text, creating multiple opportunities for Europe’s creative sectors, which will thrive and better reflect our cultural diversity and other European common values, but also for the users, whose freedom of expression on internet will be consolidated. This is a milestone for the development of a robust and well-functioning digital single market,” said Valer Daniel Breaz, Romania’s minister for culture and national identity.

The European Commission welcomed the passing of the directive by the Council. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “With today’s agreement, we are making copyright rules fit for the digital age. Europe will now have clear rules that guarantee fair remuneration for creators, strong rights for users and responsibility for platforms. When it comes to completing Europe’s digital single market, the copyright reform is the missing piece of the puzzle.”

Groups representing authors and artists also signalled their approval. French copyright collecting society SACD said that the adoption of the directive was “a success for a Europe that has shown it can reclaim its digital sovereignty and its ambition for content creation”.