Towards a reform of Copyright Law


Following the public consultation launched by the European Commission on the review of the EU Copyright Rules, held from December 5th, 2014 to March 5th, 2014, several reports were initiated, nurturing the debate with the – yet remote – prospect of a new legislation.

In July 2014, the European Commission itself put online a summary of the replies gathered during this public consultation. This document compares – on several points ranging from the concept of the “making available” right to the issue of a single European title – the input of the rights owners, performers and authors, end users, institutional users or collective management organizations.

On the other hand, the French High Council for Literary and Artistic Property commissioned a group led by Professor Sirinelli to “consider the issues surrounding potential changes to the European legal copyright framework, and primarily those related to a revision of Directive 2001/29/EC of 22 May 2001 regarding the harmonization of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society”. The mission’s report, published in October 2014, insists in particular on the need, in case of a revision of Directive 2001/29/CE, to reopen as well the debate on Directive 2000/31/CE on e-commerce: it considers in fact that if “service providers such as Google, YouTube, Dailymotion and Facebook, have benefited from and been allowed to develop thanks to the protective status offered by articles 12 to 15 of Directive 2000/31/EC, in particular the status of hosting provider“, the time has come to question the merits of maintaining this derogation regime. With regard to the role of intermediary played by the service providers between content creators and end users, the report estimates that the parties involved “have won market shares to the detriment of traditional cultural program distributors” and should, for instance, be subject to the same creative work funding obligations as other video or television service broadcasters.

Finally, on January 15th, 2015, a draft report “on the implementation of Directive 2001/29/EC” was published by the Committee of Legal Affairs of the European Parliament. That project had raised some concerns as the rapporteur was MEP Julia Reda, who is a member of the Pirate Party in Germany. However, when it comes to EU copyright reform, the draft takes up widely shared ideas, such as the adoption of mandatory rules for the improvement of the contractual position of authors or the removal of barriers arising from the territorial nature of copyright by the introduction of a single European Copyright title. Other proposals, though, such as making mandatory all exceptions currently optional for the State Members, or harmonizing the term of protection of copyright to a duration that does not exceed the current international standards set out in the Berne Convention, are strongly contested, including within the Committee of Legal Affairs itself.