It almost feels quaint to think back to a time when the passage of Europe’s new Copyright Directive felt like an all-consuming, existential issue, given the horrors that 2020 has inflicted on us so far.
It was clear at the time that the approval of the directive at a European level was far from the end of the arguments about its measures – particularly its Article 17 section (formerly Article 13) covering the liability of internet services for user-generated content/uploads.
A reminder came yesterday when music bodies the IFPI, Impala, ECSA and ICMP joined a wider group of creative industry organisations to write to the European Commissioner responsible for copyright, Thierry Breton. Their letter was to protest at what’s happening with the consultation process for the EC’s guidance to European countries on how to implement the new regulation.
(The EC published this document on 27 July, and invited interested parties to give their views by 10 September – hence yesterday’s letter.)
“We are very concerned that, in its Consultation Paper, the Commission is going against its original objective of providing a high level of protection for rightsholders and creators and to create a level playing field in the online Digital Single Market,” claimed the letter. “By interpreting Article 17 in a manner that is contrary to the intent of the EU legislature and the EU copyright acquis, the proposed guidance amounts to an attempt to rewrite the Directive and amend EU copyright law without due legislative process.”
The music bodies are unhappy. “Why rewrite the rules now? The Commission is at risk of overstepping its guidance role by re-opening the directive, which is the result of a carefully crafted compromise reached by the co-legislators, the European Parliament and Member States,” said Impala executive chair Helen Smith. Naturally, some of the technology firms who were this unhappy about the original directive may take a different view.