Directive (EU) 2019/790 on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market

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Series Details L 130, Pages 92-125
Publication Date 17/05/2019
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Directive (EU) 2019/790 - formally adopted by the co-legislators on 17 April 2019 - updating the copyright rules across the European Union (EU) to take into account the increasing digital and cross-border uses of protected content.

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This Directive provides for measures aiming at improving the position of rights holders to negotiate and be remunerated for the exploitation of their content by online services giving access to user-uploaded content. It features a new right for press publishers aiming at facilitating online licensing of their publications, the recoupment of their investment and the enforcement of their rights. It also addresses existing legal uncertainty as regards the possibility for all publishers to receive a share in the compensation for uses of works under an exception. Finally, it includes measures that aim to improve transparency and better balanced contractual relationships between authors and performers and those to whom they assign their rights.

The Digital Single Market strategy of May 2015 identified the need 'to reduce the differences between national copyright regimes and allow for wider online access to works by users across the EU'. This was followed by a Communication adopted in December 2015, which outlines targeted actions and a long-term vision to modernise EU copyright rules. The new Directive is one of the measures aimed at addressing issues identified in that Communication. The draft law was proposed as part of a package of initiatives for the modernisation of copyright rules. The proposal sparked criticism and intense debate across society in the Union, including strong positions from the big online platforms against the proposed Directive.

The Council of the European Union reached an agreement on a common position in May 2018, after almost two years of discussion. The European Parliament's relevant committee initially approved a position concerning the proposal in June, but the plenary session rejected the mandate to launch trilogue negotiations a month later. In September, the plenary eventually approved a revised negotiating position. The first round of negotiations between the institutions was held in October and an informal agreement between the institutions on a compromise text was reached on 13 February 2019. The European Parliament's plenary session formally endorsed it on 26 March, followed by the Council on 15 April. The Act was signed on 17 April 2021 and published in the Official Journal on 17 May 2019.

Poland started shortly later a legal challenge before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) against Article 17 of this Directive. The deadline for Member States to transpose this Directive into national law was met on 7 June 2021.

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Commentary and Analysis
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EUR-LEX: COM(2016)593: Proposal for a Directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market
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UK Parliament: Written Questions, Answers and Statements, 16/01/2020: Copyright: EU Action
European Commission: Press Release, 04/06/2021: New EU copyright rules that will benefit creators, businesses and consumers start to apply
European Commission: Questions and Answers – New EU copyright rules (4 June 2021)

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