Serving professional journalism since 1912

Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

COPYRIGHT – What’s going on?

The EU Copyright Directive

Unusually, there’s a lot going on in the Copyright world, and potentially it could affect just about everybody. Let’s look first at the much-discussed EU Copyright Directive, currently in what they call the ‘trilogue’ stage.

On September 12, the British Copyright Council demonstrated its delight that a new copyright directive for the digital age had moved a step closer, following a vote of MEPs in the European Parliament. After two years of thorough and careful debate, Parliament had adopted a mandate to take the draft reforms into final negotiations with the Council and Commission. This was great news for Europe’s creative community and for all who enjoy and take inspiration from creative works.

The new directive is designed to make the internet fair for all by properly valuing creative works online, supporting freedom of expression and ensuring a balance with the rights of internet users. Contradicting some claims, even spread as ‘false news’ by well-resourced exploitative parties, the free and vibrant internet we all appreciate is not under threat. If the Directive is passed in its present form, individuals will still be sharing hyperlinks and parodies and posting content as they always have, as long as the upload platforms obtain the necessary licences, as is standard in the offline world. Although the best of internet companies will be unaffected, some of the largest resent any suggestion that they pay appropriate compensation to creators, whilst zealously guarding their own copyrights.

The trilogue discussions involve the three major groupings of the EU; the Parliament of MEPs, the Council of Ministers and the Commission of permanent civil servants. CIoJ members who went on our International Division’s fact-finding mission a few years ago, organised by EU expert John Szemerey, will remember our hard-hitting interviews, where each of these groups claimed the ‘key’ role in EU organisation. In fact each is important and we trust that collectively they will produce a fair, honest and workable final text. The CIoJ supports the BCC’s hope that this will further strengthen protection for creators and right holders and ensure a sustainable future for creativity.

BREXIT

Unsurprisingly, the plans, problems and predictions accompanying Brexit have become a matter of detailed discussion between the IPO (the Intellectual Property Office) and BCC members, and occupied much of the discussion time at the September joint meeting of the two organisations. The IPO had compiled a lengthy checklist of what might happen between the UK, the EU and the rest of the world, based on various scenarios and negotiations. If you’re interested, you can find the detailed documentation (also covering such things as patents, trademarks and design rights) on the IPO website, where you’ll have the opportunity to put your own ideas, comments and representations to the UK Government.

Ken Brookes