On Tuesday 26 March, the European Parliament adopted the text of the controversial draft Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. It aims to align the digital single market and incentivise creativity, investment and new content. It seeks to balance the rights of authors and other stakeholders with those of users and it is this which has come under criticism as not really having been achieved in the draft.
This means that it will in all likelihood come into effect across the EU, in just over two years’ time. This, assuming the UK Government’s Brexit deal is agreed by the UK Parliament, may fall outside any transitional period provided for in the EU Withdrawal Agreement which is due to end, if it is not extended, in December 2020. It would therefore be an option for the UK to agree to adopt it or not during that transitional period when EU law will still apply to the UK.
The Directive contains two particularly controversial provisions:
There are real fears that having to filter content could lead to some authorised content inadvertently being removed and that information service providers will be overly restricted in what services they can provide.
In March 2018, much to the concern of a large part of the UK’s digital sector, the Prime Minister confirmed the UK would leave the Digital Single Market and seek a bilateral agreement with the EU. This decision appears to have been driven by her red lines on leaving the European single market and having no ECJ jurisdiction in the UK. It remains to be seen if those red lines will survive the current machinations in the UK Parliament or the negotiation of the future relationship with the EU if we leave. From a European perspective, this is the first Directive in many years to attempt to further harmonise copyright law. From the UK perspective, it is unclear whether or not we will adopt it or indeed on what detailed basis we will interact with the Digital Single Market in the future.
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.