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EU Finalizes New Copyright Rules Revised for the Information Era

Photo © AP Images/European Union-EP

Photo © AP Images/European Union-EP

Aiming in the constantly evolving digital age to address issues of free exchange of information, fair use, and open competition, EU lawmakers went ahead and approved on Wednesday, a final draft of its existing copyright law that among others aims to ensure that rights holders are properly recompensed for their works.

The amended law – which must now be submitted for confirmation by member states at the European Council – was approved amid intense opposition from lobbyists representing large Internet firms and open-Internet supporters, and “encourages the development of new content-based businesses in the interest of all European citizens”.

“Today’s agreement is a sign of our determination to set up a well-functioning digital single market that encourages the development of new content-based businesses in the interest of all European citizens,” the European Commission said in a statement.

“We will therefore unlock the opportunities of the digital world, both for creators, whose rights should be fully respected and for the European citizens, who should take advantage of the benefits brought by the Digital Single Market.”

The directive in effect largely restricts Internet giants and empowers news publishers foreseeing the right for the digital use of their press publications. At the same time, authors of works incorporated in press publications will be entitled to a share of the publisher’s revenue.

“To finally have modern copyright rules for the whole of EU is a major achievement that was long overdue. The negotiations were difficult, but what counts in the end is that we have a fair and balanced result that is fit for a digital Europe: the freedoms and rights enjoyed by Internet users today will be enhanced, our creators will be better remunerated for their work, and the Internet economy will have clearer rules for operating and thriving,” said Vice-president for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip.

The amendments to the existing EU copyright law make it “fit-for-purpose in today’s digital environment” and focus on three categories: adaptation of copyright exceptions/limitations to the digital and cross-border environment; improvement of licensing practices to ensure wider access to content;  achievement of a well-functioning marketplace for copyright.

Last year, EU lawmakers approved a revised version of a copyright law which would require websites to scan all posts for copyright violations via filter. The decision created controversy among the Internet community.

Under the updated EU copyright law – the amended Article 13 approved by a 438-226 margin – online publishers must automatically filter photos, videos, words and phrases, tweets, memes and other user-generated content for copyright violations or be liable for copyright infringement.

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