Copyright rules for the digital environment: Council agrees its position

Print this page 05-06-2018

On the 25th of May the Council has given its vision about a proposal aimed at adapting EU copyright rules to the digital environment. "The main objective of the directive is to modernise the European copyright framework and adapt it to the requirements of the digital age. By contributing to the harmonisation of practises across  member states, it will also increase legal certainty in the digital single market. The Council compromise text would create a new right for press publishers for the online use of their press publications, which is in line with the Commission original proposal. However, the protection would only last one year instead of the 20 years proposed by the Commission


The directive seeks to strike the right balance between the remuneration received by authors and performers and the profits made by internet platforms when they make their works accessible. This difference is known as the value gap. The Council text targets online service providers whose main purpose (or one of whose main purposes) is to provide access to a large amount of copyright-protected content uploaded by their users for the purpose of making profits from organising and promoting it. Examples of organising and promoting content include indexing the content, presenting it in a certain manner and categorising it.

It would not include services such as internet access providers, providers of cloud services which allow users, including businesses, to upload content for their own use, or online marketplaces whose main activity is online retail and which do not give access to copyright protected content.


The Council text encourages collaboration between online content sharing service providers and rightsholders. Service providers will have to obtain authorisation from rightholders. When no authorisation has been given, for example because rightholders do not want to conclude a licence, the service provider will have to prevent the availability of the works identified by rightholders. Otherwise, they will be considered to be liable for copyright infringement. Nevertheless, exemptions from liability may be granted to platforms under certain conditions linked notably to their size. Upon notification by rightsholders of an unauthorised protected work, an online content sharing service provider will have to take urgent steps to remove the work and prevent it from becoming available in future." 


Read the full press release here. Read the draft directive here.