Agreement reached at final trilogue negotiation

13 February 2019

A deal has been reached at today’s final trilogue negotiation, meaning the Copyright Directive will continue through the legislative process.

In the immediate aftermath, a press release from the European Parliament quotes Rapporteur Axel Voss as praising the deal as “help[ing] make the internet ready for the future, a space which benefits everyone, not only a powerful few”. Continuing, he states:

“… [T]his deal contains numerous provisions which will guarantee that the internet remains a space for free expression. These provisions were not in themselves necessary because the directive will not be creating any new rights for rights holders. Yet we listened to the concerns raised and chose to doubly guarantee the freedom of expression.”

Further, European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip reported that the trilogue achieved “guaranteed rights for users, fair remuneration for creators, clarity of rules for platforms”. Dissenting from this view, Vice-President of the CCIA (an industry organisation representing Google, Facebook and Amazon) described the deal as a “lost opportunity to achieve a balanced and future-proof EU copyright reform”.

More specifically, on the particular clauses contained in the agreed text:

Article 3: The exception for text and data mining, which has reportedly been made mandatory, can simultaneously be restricted to only research organisations should right holders opt-out.

Article 11: Whilst the JURI Committee Press report that “snippets [are] safe” under the new press publishers’ right, Julia Reda has confirmed that licences will be required for anything more than a single word or very short extract. The exact extent of “very short extract” is unclear.

Article 13: The Franco-German position on article 13 was accepted, which includes: no general exception for SME’s, and instead a limited set of carve-out criteria for smaller platforms, and; a requirement for platforms to make “best efforts” to obtain licences from right holders. More generally, the European Parliament press release confirms that internet companies will now be liable for the infringements of their users under the deal (in an effort to ensure better negotiation and fair remuneration with right holders), but that “quotation, criticism, review, caricature, parody or pastiche” will continue to be protected (how this is to be achieved is not detailed).

Further details on provisions for cultural heritage institutions and fair remuneration for authors are detailed in the European Commission press release.

Following today’s agreement, and ahead of any official adoption of the reform, approval will be required from the Legal Affairs Committee at a meeting scheduled for 18 February (and later, national governments in a meeting of the Council).

N.B. The final text of the compromise agreement is now available here (released 18 February).