On 26 March 2019 the European Parliament approved the controversial proposal for the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market.

The most controversial points that monopolised the discussion remained centred on articles 15 and 17 (numbered 11 and 13 during the discussions).

As per article 15, described in the media as the “link tax”, Member States shall provide publishers of press publications with therights of reproduction and public communication for the digital use of their press publications by service providers, including major search engines. According to the detractors of the proposed Directive, the above will represent a serious obstacle to upload citations to news without paying licence fees to publishers as the exception set forth in such article is very restrictive by limiting it only to the use of individual words or very short extracts.

As per article 17, described in the media as the “upload filter”, Member States shall set forth obligations on online content-sharing service providers who store and allow access to large quantities of works and other subject-matter uploaded by their users to take appropriate and proportionate measures to ensure the agreements granted by rightholders and to prevent the availability in their services of content identified by rightholders in cooperation with service providers. As a consequence, online content-sharing service providers shall be liable for unauthorised use unless they demonstrate the elements expressly listed in such article.  Some sectors interpret this article as an open door so that, in order to comply with legislation and avoid any liability, online content-sharing service providers will setup filters that are too rigorous or that the automation of the same leads to a paralysis in the flow of information or contents to be uploaded on the Internet even in those cases where there is no a real harm to rightholders.

The Directive also contains other less controversial articles related to measures to adapt exceptions and limitations to the digital and cross-border environment; to improve licensing practices and ensure wider access to content; and to achieve a well-functioning marketplace for copyright; among others.

The Directive will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union and from that date Member States will have two years to transpose the Directive into national law.

You can click here to see the complete text as well as the amendments of the European Parliament submitted for approval.