EC Copyright Reform Proposal Encounters Resistance In European Parliament09/03/2017 by Dugie Standeford for Intellectual Property Watch 1 CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate.European Commission plans to modernise copyright rules have run into opposition in European Parliament committees, with lawmakers particularly pushing back against the proposal for a publishers’ right to licence snippets of news content. Responding to a leaked copy of the draft opinion by lead committee Legal Affairs (JURI), German Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Julia Reda, of the Greens/European Free Alliance, predicted the publishers’ right provision would fail. Publishers, however, slammed the report’s author for “prioritising litigation over licensing and cooperation.”The EC’s proposed directive on copyright in the digital single market, published on 14 September 2016, recommended the creation of a right for the reproduction and making available to the public of press publications for digital uses (the publishers’ or neighbouring right). The idea attracted strong backing from publishers but equally strong opposition from digital rights activists.The European Commission proposal is here.In her draft JURI response, Maltese MEP Therese Comodini Cachia of the European Peoples’ Party (EPP) said that while press publishers “do face challenges in the digitalisation process of business and consumer habits,” digitalisation “also facilitates access to news and press by providing digital users a referencing or indexing system that leads them to a wide range of news and press.”Using digital technology to help users find news published in press publications “is not necessarily disproportionately harmful to the financial interests of press publishers,” she said.She proposed giving them the right to bring proceedings before tribunals in their own name against infringers of the rights of the authors whose works are contained in their press publication.The report calls for rightholders “to be given a ‘presumption of representation’ rather than a neighbouring right, publishers said in an 8 February press statement. “Perversely, this will encourage litigation instead of incentivising licensing and innovative ways of making content available which was one of the Commission’s objectives in proposing the neighbouring right,” said the European Publishers Council, European Newspaper Publishers Association, European Magazine Media Association and News Media Europe.The original proposal “would result in a duplication of rights belonging to the press publishers and the authors of the articles,” Hogan Lovells (London) intellectual property attorney Penelope Thornton told IP-Watch. The presumption of representation is a “more logical approach” that avoids duplication of rights but allows publishers to enforce copyright in their articles and stop third parties from using the content for free, which otherwise undermines press publishers’ business model, she said.The EC “wants to generate income for European publishers by allowing them to charge internet platforms for displaying snippets of their content to users,” Reda said in a briefing paper. Its “stated targets are Google, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, who use such snippets in the course of linking to news articles.” This is “likely to fail,” because it’s an attempt to replicate at EU level an idea that already failed badly in Germany and Spain,” Reda wrote. Among other problems with the publishers’ right is that it limits access to information and could boost the availability of fake news because propaganda outlets are unlikely to charge for snippets, she said.It was “really unfair of the Commission to propose such a totally untenable measure and claim it would be beneficial to publishers,” European Digital Rights Executive Director Joe McNamee emailed. The Comodini Cachia report “seems to have quite ingeniously turned it into something that would actually be useful for publishers,” he said.Internet Platform Monitoring of UGCThe EC also wants to make it easier for rights owners to negotiate and be paid for the exploitation of their content by online services that provide access to user-generated content. Under proposed Article 13, information society service providers that store and provide public access to “large amounts of works or other subject-matter uploaded by their users shall, in cooperation with rightholders, take measures to ensure the functioning of agreements concluded with rightholders for the use of their works…” The measures could include the use of effective content recognition technologies, it said.Comodini Cachia, however, said the liability of platforms is already established in the E-Commerce Directive (2000/31/EC). She recommended removing the obligation for automated monitoring for copyright violation, leaving platforms to ensure that their agreements with rights owners are being upheld while not prescribing how to do it. The report also recommended not limiting the provision to services hosting large amounts of content.Article 13 aims to get at the “value gap” between artists and Google’s YouTube, Reda said. But upload monitoring software can’t tell the difference between infringement and legal uses such as parody, and the proposal “requires the installation of what amounts to surveillance technology,” she wrote.Digital rights group Bits of Freedom has launched SaveTheMeme to push for deletion of Article 13. The provision is “fundamentally broken,” so trying to fix it, as Comodini Cachia has done, “is not the best option,” said EDRi’s McNamee.In his draft opinion for the Culture and Education Committee, French MEP Marc Joulaud of the EPP said the EC had failed to “acknowledge the position consumers, as service users, now occupy in the digital environment.” They are no longer passive, but are not both a source and recipient of content in the digital world, he wrote. He proposed a new definition of “user-generated content” as well as a new mandatory exception to protect the use of extracts of copyrighted works as long as they meet several requirements ensuring that the use is proportionate.Joulaud’s draft opinion is here.Text and Data MiningArticle 3 of the EC proposal would require member states to provide an exception to the right of reproduction for “reproductions and extractions made by research organisations in order to carry out text and data mining of works or other subject-matter to which they have lawful access for the purposes of scientific research.”Comodini Cachia called for a mandatory exception for research organisations to be provided with “normalised information” in a format that allows it to be text- and data-mined as long as that is done by research organisations.In his draft opinion for the European Parliament Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE), Polish MEP Zdzisław Krasnodębski, of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, proposed that the exception be available not just to research organisations but to public and private entities and individuals.The ITRE opinion is available here.JURI will hold a hearing on the new mandatory exceptions to copyright reform and debate the Comodini Cachia report on 22 March. A vote on the report could come in June, with a plenary vote possible by late 2017 or early 2018, Reda said. Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)RelatedDugie Standeford may be reached at email@example.com."EC Copyright Reform Proposal Encounters Resistance In European Parliament" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.