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Talks on EU copyright reforms cancelled

Out-Law News | 21 Jan 2019 | 2:03 pm | 2 min. read

Final talks on how planned new EU copyright laws should be worded were cancelled on Monday.

'Trilogue' discussions between the EU's two law-making bodies, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, as well as the European Commission, which proposes new EU legislation, were supposed to take place to iron out differences between the bodies over the copyright reforms.

However, Reuters reported that preparatory talks on Friday had failed to open up enough scope for compromise, resulting in Monday's meeting being cancelled. Monday's talks were supposed to be the final in a series of trilogue talks at which it was hoped "an overall compromise" on the new copyright laws would reached to enable the reforms to be adopted before the European parliamentary elections in May.

According to proposals set out by the Romanian presidency of the Council of Ministers, a number of aspects of the proposed reforms have still to be agreed on. These include the wording of the controversial Article 11 and Article 13, which have been the subject of significant lobbying and media coverage.

The proposals under Article 11 would require website operators and social media companies, among others, to make a 'fair and proportionate' payment in remuneration for the digital use of press publications.

Under Article 13, content creators would gain greater control over where their copyrighted material appears online and online platforms would be forced to intervene to tackle unauthorised use of the material by users.

The Romanian presidency's proposals, published by The Register, were put to the Council's Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) on 17 January with a view to enabling greater flexibility in negotiations with the Parliament and Commission. In it, compromise text was set out.

Among other things, the Romanian presidency suggested that "individual words and very short extracts of a press publication" be excluded from the protection of the press publishers' right under Article 11. It also asked EU member states represented on Coreper to extent the term of protection that would apply under the proposed new right to up to two years.

The Romanian presidency also table proposed new wording relating to the liability for unauthorised acts under Article 13 in the event that no authorisation by rights holders is provided for their material to be shared on online content sharing platforms.

The compromise wording for Article 13 set out detailed conditions through which online content sharing service providers would avoid liability, and further set out exceptions to copyright that would enable content to be shared legitimately without it being deemed infringement.

Campaigners against the Article 13 plans have previously warned that the proposals would result in the automated filtering of copyrighted content online, with the risk that some content permitted under copyright rules – such as that used in works of parody or under 'fair use' exemptions – are removed from platforms, including memes and remixes.

Trade associations in music, publishing, film and TV, as well as representatives of other rights holders, again expressed their concerns with the Article 13 proposals in open letters published last week.