News & Views

EU Copyright Reform – Where Are We Now?

7 December 2016

Author: Charlotta Bonsdorff

In May 2015, the European Commission published a Digital Single Market Strategy (“DSM”). Modifying copyright rules to reflect new technologies and to make the rules simpler and clearer has been one of the Commission’s key efforts in the 16 initiatives it has set under the DSM. The main components of the copyright reform have been planned to be delivered during 2016. As the end of 2016 is fast approaching, the status of the reform should be visited.

The Commission proposed this autumn the new copyright reform package comprising of a directive on copyright in DSM and a regulation on certain online transmissions of broadcasting organisations and retransmissions. The principal aim of the Commission is to ensure better choice and access to the content online and across borders. In addition, copyright rules on research and education are to be improved and the marketplace for creators, creative industries and the press should be made more fair and sustainable.

The need to modernize the copyright framework in the EU is crucial as the Internet and digital technologies have transformed radically since the previous larger European copyright reform – the InfoSoc Directive in 2001. Thus, the much awaited proposals were greeted with disappointment. The main criticism concerned the regressive point of view and the missed chance to modernize the lagging copyright regulation. The main problems with the proposals include:

    • A mechanism that would require Internet platforms to proactively monitor user created content in order to adhere to copyright law and identify and remove copyright infringing content.


    • The mandatory text and data mining exception will only be available for non-profit research institutions. The limited beneficiaries will in turn restrict the potential in discoveries and innovation.

The proposals will now pass through the ordinary European legislative process and the European Parliament and Council must also agree on the final drafts before they pass. No legislative timetable has been published, but even in the best-case scenario the process starting now could take somewhere around 24 months.