A committee proposal to begin negotiations to update copyright laws for the digital age has been rejected by the European Parliament.
The Parliament’s plenary voted by 318 votes to 278, with 31 abstentions to reject the negotiating mandate, proposed by the Legal Affairs Committee on June 20. As a result, Parliament’s position will now be up for debate, amendment, and a vote during the next plenary session, in September.
After the vote, the rapporteur, Axel Voss said: “I regret that a majority of MEPs did not support the position which I and the Legal Affairs Committee have been advocating. But this is part of the democratic process. We will now return to the matter in September for further consideration and attempt to address peoples’ concerns whilst bringing our copyright rules up to date with the modern digital environment.”
The most contentious aspects of the new Copyright Directive are Article 11 and Article 13. The former would prevent online content platforms and news aggregators sharing links without paying for them and the require online platforms to monitor and effectively enforce copyright laws.
In response, the Society of Audiovisual Authors (SAA) has issued a statement in which it says it regrets the delay. In its view, the vote not only undermines months of intense work and negotiations by the members of the Legal Affairs Committee, it also sends a strange signal about Europe’s ability to define a favourable legal framework for authors’ rights in the digital era before the election of a new European Parliament.
SAA adds that it and more than 18,100 signatories of the petition support the introduction of a very much needed new article establishing a principle of fair and proportionate remuneration for authors and performers from the exploitation of their works, including online (new Article 13c). It is therefore crucial that the European Parliament’s plenary confirms this provision when looking into the report by the Legal Affairs’ Committee in September.
It also says that as many studies have shown, European screenwriters and directors are today the weakest link in terms of remuneration. The European Parliament should not forsake the opportunity to reverse the trend and set the scene for tomorrow’s European creation. Otherwise authors will never benefit from the ever growing on-demand exploitation of their works.
Cécile Despringre, SAA executive director, said: “It is very disappointing that a majority of Members of the European Parliament gave in to the aggressive pressure put on them by digital platforms and the opponents to copyright instead of listening to European authors. This will only delay much needed rules for authors whose earnings are weakened in the digital era.”