Copyright Directive: new rules for copyright

In the new digital era, new copyright rules from the European Parliament and Council’s Copyright Directive 2019/790 will regulate the new framework. These new rules are meant to ensure the protection of print publications, reduce the wage gap between content producers and digital platforms, foster better cooperation between rights holders and platforms, and make research facilities freely accessible.

The most controversial articles of the directive revolve around the rights of content creators, as more emerge in the digital era.

Articles 3 and 4 discuss research institutions for the protection of cultural heritage being exempted from copyright laws, while Article 8 allows non-exclusive license agreements to be made with these cultural heritage institutions, as well. Article 15 allows journalistic publications to be reproduced through information society service providers, and Article 17 requires authorization from the holder of the rights for online content sharing services to perform acts of “communication to the public.”

The Copyright Directive was first proposed in September 2016, but it was not given final approval until March 26, 2019. It then took another year before the Directive was transposed in Italy on February 14, 2020. However, implementation was suspended due to the COVID-19 emergency.

There have been mixed responses from Italian stakeholders to the Copyright Directive. While Other Consumption argues that the Directive needs to frame digitization as more of an opportunity, Wikimedia Italy focuses on the need for new cultural and social development opportunities to be fostered digitally. However, just as the COVID-19 emergency delayed action, it also made implementation more urgent.

The Federation of the Italian Music Industry has pointed out that the COVID-19 emergency has increased the wage gap for content creators, but there is still much pushback preventing this. Controversy over Article 13 on open-source software and the “Save the Internet” campaigns that have followed have made implementation more difficult.

In the grand scheme of the Copyright Directive, it seems that the wage gap content creators face and the accessibility of information are the most immediate matters that need to be resolved.