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Industry Report: European Policy

In Brussels, experts discuss the implementation of the 2019 EU Copyright Directive


During the event, the panellists pointed out that much work is still needed, as only half of the member states have adjusted their respective legal frameworks

In Brussels, experts discuss the implementation of the 2019 EU Copyright Directive
l-r: Marco Giorello (the EC’s head of Copyright Unit), Ula Furgal (lecturer at the University of Glasgow Law School) and Pauline Durand-Vialle (CEO of FERA) during the discussion

On 23 June, Brussels’ Maison européenne des Auteurs et des Autrices hosted a special conference on the implementation of the 2019 EU Copyright Directive, organised by the European Composer and Songwriter Alliance (ECSA), the European Writers’ Council (EWC), the Federation of European Film and TV Directors (FERA) and the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe (FSE), in co-operation with the Cultural Creators Friendship Group (CCFG).

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The event was kicked off by the welcoming remarks by Marc du Moulin, ECSA’s secretary general, and the opening keynote speech by Nina George, EWC’s president. The floor was then given to the first group of panellists, Ula Furgal (lecturer at the University of Glasgow Law School), Marco Giorello (the EC’s head of Copyright Unit) and moderator Pauline Durand-Vialle (CEO of FERA).

Furgal touched upon the directive’s main legislative steps and, in particular, highlighted the provision as being “the first comprehensive EU intervention in copyright contracts which explicitly recognises the weaker bargaining position of creators”. The directive aims to set minimum harmonisation standards, establish equal treatment of authors and performers, and facilitate fair exploitation contracts through “a horizontal approach, not limited to digital uses”. She also talked the audience through how different EU legislations tackle (or struggle to handle) different areas of copyright law, including those mentioned by the directive’s Article 18 on remuneration, Article 19 on transparency obligations, Article 20 on contract adjustment mechanisms, Article 21 on alternative dispute resolutions and Article 22 on revocation rights.

Later, Giorello said that only around half of the member states have implemented the directive so far, and the EC has commenced infringement procedures against 14 of them. He also admitted the struggles inherent in aligning remuneration standards at the European level.

While the EC’s work is now focusing on ensuring that member states adjust their legal frameworks, he explained that the next steps will be about “making sure that what they’ve done is correct” and “analysing the [directive’s] impact on the market”.

Next, Giorello added, “There are several instances where the Copyright Directive relies on – or gives room to member states to rely on – collective bargaining.” He said that some provisions explicitly “empower trade organisations to act on behalf of the authors” and that their role is crucial, especially when it comes to avoiding the risk of “blacklisting”.

He explained that while the directive was written with the aim of achieving the greatest possible clarity and involving as many actors as possible in the process, the EC is still “a bit disappointed” about its reception. Speaking about the possible reasons behind this struggle, he doesn’t think that COVID-19 is the only culprit, but it has certainly played a disruptive role along with other structural problems.

As part of the MEDIA Action Plan, Giorello added, there will be a “media outlook” being published regularly, which will help people to make more informed decisions. He described it as “a serious, evidence-based piece of work” delving into “the economics and the market dynamics of the media sector”. The first report will be published by the end of 2022. It will contain a general overview and some specific sections covering a variety of topics such as buyout practices, and the relationships between streamers and the creative industries.

You can access the full recording of the event here.

The talk was followed by the keynotes by MEPs Tomasz Frankowski and Ibán García del Blanco, and a second panel about best practices to improve authors’ contracts and remuneration. Finally, ECSA’s president delivered her closing keynote speech.

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