The European Commission has released long-awaited proposals for an EU-wide copyright law giving greater power to press publications and content owners in what could be a blow for US-based online services such YouTube and Google News.
In draft regulations and directives released today, the commission said it wanted to reinforce the position of rights owners allowing them to ‘negotiate and be remunerated’ for online exploitation of their content.
Platforms such as YouTube and Dailymotion will have an obligation to deploy effective means to automatically detect songs or works that have been identified for removal, the commission said.
The platforms, among others, have been criticised over whether they enjoy an unfair advantage over licensed streaming services and whether they pay a ‘fair’ amount for third-party content.
The commission calls for the platforms to ‘ensure the functioning of agreements concluded with rights holders for the use of their works’ and to prevent the availability of infringing works through ‘effective content-recognition technologies’.
A ‘new right’ should also be granted for publishers of newspapers, magazines and ‘other press publications’ helping them obtain a fair price when negotiating with news aggregators and social media websites.
Although the commission stops short of revealing a threshold, the proposals say hosting providers that give access to ‘large amounts of copyrighted work’ should take ‘appropriate measures’ to ensure that IP owners are protected.
‘As they [publishers] will be legally recognised as right holders for the very first time they will be in a better position when they negotiate the use of their content… and better able to fight piracy,’ the commission said.
The measure is intended to allow press publications an additional right to secure licence fees from search engines and other intermediaries.
Publishers could also benefit from the hyperlinking restrictions clarified by the Court of Justice of the European Union last week in the GS Media v Sanoma case, as the proposals also encourage publishers and producers to be transparent and inform authors about the profits they make.
Ted Shapiro, partner at media and IP firm Wiggin, said certain technology sectors and user groups have ’already voiced disappointment and opposition to some elements’, including the publishers’ right and new obligations for online platforms.
‘Certain users believe there are not enough exceptions and the ones that are proposed are too narrow. Authors and performers want a stronger intervention to ensure more adequate remuneration,’ Shapiro said.
He added: ‘These views will all play out in the council and parliament’s deliberations. It may take several years; some pieces may advance faster than others.’
The commission also wants to make it easier for TV and radio broadcasters to license the rights they need for online activities – particularly in regard to catch-up services.
Currently rights need to be cleared in at least the country of origin and any other countries in which the service will be broadcast.
But according to the new proposals, copyright will need to be cleared only in the country of origin meaning a broadcaster could get a single licence that would enable it to have its online services available across all EU member states.
The commission has also proposed exceptions allowing educational establishments to use copyright protected material and cultural heritage institutions to preserve works digitally.
Finally, the EU will take steps to implement the Marrakesh Treaty, which facilitates access to published works for blind and visually impaired people.