As the summer season started in the Northern hemisphere, the global conversation about copyright heated up in a number of territories around the world. What happened, particularly, in Europe, Canada and Australia?
Europe: Proposed Copyright Directive for the Digital Age
As recently as on July 5th, we saw a step further in the long and somewhat winding road towards the updating of copyright rules for the digital age in the European Union. That day, the European Parliament voted not to endorse the report approved by its Legal Affairs committee on June 20th and to postpone until September consideration of the proposed new Copyright Directive after more discussions intended to take place in August (when most legislators are on vacation) and in the first weeks of September. At that time, if the then-draft legislation is approved by the Parliament (still a big if), the legislative process will take its next step, which is in negotiation by the Parliament with the other two EU bodies involved: the European Council (representing the EU’s Member States) and the European Commission (representing the European Union’s elected central administration).
Among other things, the proposed legislation creates a new right for news publishers to ensure they are fairly remunerated for the use of their work by sharing platforms and news aggregators. It also contains new measures to fight online copyright infringement, stronger negotiation rights for authors and performers and new exceptions to copyright for text and data mining, education and preservation by cultural heritage institutions such as libraries.
Resistance to the draft Directive from the large tech companies has been fierce and American-style lobbying has taken place, perhaps for the first time with this intensity in the European legislature. And it is not expected that that campaign will stop. In any case, if the Parliament in fact passes the legislation in September, and the negotiations with the Council and Commission are fruitful – none of which is definite – then final approval for the new law would not come before the end of 2018, at which point the EU Member States will then have to “transpose” the Directive into their individual national law, which will likely take two years or more.
According to Politico, Europe’s copyright fight is just getting started…
See here the reaction from the Federation of European Publishers to the voting at the European Parliament on July 5th here.
And Billboard offers another take on the impact for the music industry here.
Canada: Royalties Settlement for Copibec
Copibec, the collective licensing organization for text works in Québec, has just published a notice about its recent settlement regarding copyright royalties with Laval University. This is the way in which both parties agreed last June to put an end to the legal dispute between them regarding copyright licensing for the university’s teaching and research activities.
Copibec had launched a class action against Laval in 2014, when the university refused to renew its Copibec license and put into effect an internal policy for the use of third-party works. Both parties now acknowledge that collective management offers important advantages and promotes academic freedom. The settlement (for which the notice, but not the actual text, has just been made public) remains subject to Court approval.
This is happening at a time when a review of the Canada Copyright Modernization Act is being conducted, and the collective licenses and fees from the other Canadian licensing organization for text works, Access Copyright, are being challenged by some education authorities and most universities in English-speaking Canada.
Australia: Copyright Modernization Underway
July 4th marks the final submission date for the consultation launched by the Australian Government on its projected “copyright modernisation”, which aims to bring up to date the Copyright Act of 1968.
Based on reports from the Productivity Commission, stakeholders have been able to contribute their views on the proposals to include new exceptions to copyright (for educational purposes, among others), regulate the use of ‘orphan works’ and how to handle conflicts between contract terms and the scope of exceptions.
See Hugh Stephens’ recent post on the International Publishers Association’s blog for a detailed account of the proposed changes and what is at stake in Australia, where the copyright review is expected to continue into 2019.