The Digital Single Market: a Dream that Will Come True?

Author: Inga Lukauskiene, Associated Partner, Attorney-at-law, Patent Attorney at METIDA, Court Mediator; Ausrine Sakalauskaite, junior lawyer at METIDA

digital-marketingA week ago the European Commission published a series of proposals to modernize EU copyright law. The main reason behind the proposed changes – is to adapt EU‘s copyright law provisions up to todays‘s realities, namely – rapidly changing technologies and the emergence of various online services. The proposed changes should also bring innovations in the fields of education, research and cultural heritage.
The European Commission’s proposals have three main priorities:
  • Improving copyright provisions relating to research, education and inclusion of people with disabilities

Nowadays there are almost no area of our lives where we wouldn‘t use some kind of technology, education – is no exception. More and more schools are using technology during their teaching process, one of the most important examples – the use of digital educational materials or online learnig programs. Unfortunately, due to the existing copyright law restrictions such teaching / learning tools are not available for everyone. This, of course, creates obstacles to those conducting various researches as well. For this reason one of the amendments suggested by the European Commission is a certain exception which would allow educational institutions to use a variety of teaching materials, through digital tools and online courses across the EU.

The proposed copyright and the digital single market Directive includes a number of other significant exceptions: 1) allowing EU-wide use of text and data technology to analyze large data sets for research purposes; 2) allowing culural heritage institutions to preserve the cultural heritage works in digital form.

Finally, the Commission presented a proposal for the implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty, in order to facilitate access for the blind and otherwise visually impaired people to published works.
  • A fairer and sustainable marketplace for creators and press

The new Directive aims to strengthen the rights holders ability to negotiate and be fairly renumerated for the use of their works on various video sharing platforms such as Youtube. YouTube and other similar platforms will be obliged to use a variety of tools to help automatically detect songs or audiovisual works, and divide them according to whether copyright holders granted the right to use them in such platforms, or ordered to remove it.

Just as the music industry is already hard to imagine without a variety of music listening, uploading and sale platforms on the internet, the press has already slowly moving to the web pages as well. While it is clear that the „transition“ from paper publications to their electronic versions have many advantages, such as wider pool of readers or the possibility to report relevant news in real time, there is no secret that the publication of such material in cyberspace have increased the posibility of copyright theft. The Commission proposes to improve the situation by introducing a new set of publishers’ rights. This would include the same reproduction and „making available to the public“rights that EU law guarantees to the film producers, record producers, broadcasters, etc., as far as they relate to the use of digital works.

The new Directive should also include provisions requiring publishers and producers to inform the authors and (or) performers of the real profit derived from their works, so this should ensure (or allow) authors and performers to obtain a fair renumeration when negotiating with publishers and producers.
  • Better choice and access to content online and across the borders
Another innovation proposed by the European Commission – a legal mechanism enabling broadcasters to easily get them the necessary authorizations from the right holders to broadcast certain programs on the internet in other EU member states. This mechanism is related both to the broadcasting on television in real time, and to the broadcasters content placement on various TV on-demand platforms such as TV3 Play, which allows the user to watch his favorite shows online at any convenient time.
The Commission proposes that each Member State should set up an institution engaged in negotiations between the rights holders and video on-demand platforms to help facilitate the conclusion of licensing transactions, including the cross-border services.
The new Directive will contribute to the preservation of cultural heritage, because it will contain provisions for museums, archives and other heritage institutions to digitize and make available to the public various out of commerce copyrighted works, such as books or movies.

What’s next?
These and other changes proposed by the European Commission are part of the EU’s strategy to create a Digital Single Market. However, in order to make all of these innovations a reality, they have yet to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council of Europe. We will keep you informed about the course of events related to this copyright reform.



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