In March, the European Parliament approved the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market with the stated intention of promoting a well-functioning marketplace for the exploitation of works. MEPs adopted the directive in plenary by 348 votes in favor, 274 against, and 37 abstentions. The Copyright Directive has its opponents and its supporters, from Google and Sir Tim Berners-Lee against to Agence France-Presse and Sir Paul McCartney in favor. 

The first draft of the legislation that became the directive was released in September 2016. Three years later, it remains for the EU member states to pass national legislation that meets the directive’s requirements. They must do so by the end of 2021. 

Need a refresher? Try What You Need To Know About The European Copyright Directive. 

I discussed this topic during Frankfurt Book Fair 2019 with Elizabeth Crossick of RELX Group, attorney Carlo Scollo Lavizzariand Mark Seeley of SciPubLaw. 

Stream the conversation

So, what is the state of the EU Copyright Directive? Legislation has given way to adoption – but not without customization. 

According to Crossick, “The previous directive had a number of exceptions. The majority of them, all bar one, were optional. So of course, in a single market, when you’ve got optional exceptions with 27, 28 member states adopting them, you can get a very fragmented single market. Some adopt and some don’t. One of the purposes is to say all the exceptions that already exist will be mandatory, and actually there are a few areas in which we need to add additional exceptions. The biggest one, and the one many people here will be familiar with, is text and data mining.” 

For those unfamiliar with the EU legislation, it might not be so cut-and-dry as you think. “It is a directive,” states Crossick. “That’s important to note, because it doesn’t just get implemented as-is. All the member states now need to adopt laws to implement the directive.” 

“Countries are not obliged to adopt at once all provisions,” clarifies Lavizzari. “The 27 or 28 member states [depending on the UK and Brexit] are still to some extent going to remain fragmented.” 

In that sense, we are at the end of the beginning. As the implementation phase progresses, variations on the directive will arise as law, rather than a full single market.  

View the full transcript here.

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Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's Velocity of Content podcast series, which debuted in 2006 and is the longest continuously running podcast covering the publishing industry. As CCC's Senior Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.
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