– Ms. Catherine Stihler, a member of the European Parliament and rapporteur for the European Commission’s new copyright proposal in the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, on Thursday published her draft opinion on the proposal.
Most notable, but perhaps unsurprising given its controversy in parliamentary discussions, is the complete removal of the proposed press publishers’ right. In justifying her position, Ms. Stihler states plainly in the report that “the introduction of a press publishers right is unnecessary as publishers are already protected by copyright law - based on transfers or licenses of the author’s rights from the respective authors (journalists)”, adding that under today’s legislation “publishers have the full right to opt-out of the ecosystem any time using simple technical means”. The draft report is thus another strong indication that the proposed press publishers’ right is unlikely to pass parliamentary scrutiny intact.
A surprising and controversial addition however, is the newly introduced article 13a which proposes to allow “natural persons” to reuse copyright protected works for non-commercial purposes provided that the source is indicated and there is “a certain level of creativity in the new work which substantially differentiates it from the original work.” This would be a radical shift from the current copyright framework and would introduce something akin to an obligatory Creative Commons license. Creative Commons licenses are a form of “copyleft” licenses that allows creators to make their work available with less restrictive conditions that explicitly permit future reuse.
Other notable changes include removing the limitation to “research organisations” from the exception to permit use of copyrighted material in the context of text and data mining, as well as adding a new exception on public lending in a digital context “to allow the lending of literary works in any format to the public, where such works have been legitimately acquired”.
The draft also proposes to expand the exception for educational use to include libraries and other institutions that provide “non-formal or informal education”. And notably to explicitly include “public service broadcaster[s]” in the definition of cultural heritage institutions, thereby allowing public broadcasters “to distribute, communicate to the public or make available out-of-commerce works or other subject-matter permanently in the collection of the institution for non-commercial purposes” along with various other exemptions.
While the draft opinion is unlikely to be adopted in full in its current form, it signals a significant departure from the Commission’s original proposal and highlights that the institutions may still have a long way to go before reconciling their differences.