The draft European Parliament report on the InfoSoc Directive, sometimes also called the Copyright Directive, has generated an enormous wave of responses. It was presented by the Member of the Parliament (MEP) responsible for leading the file, Julia Reda, to the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) on 20 January.
What are the next steps and what is the report’s ultimate significance? After all of the relevant Committees have transmitted their opinions, JURI will vote on the report and transmit it to the Plenary. If it is adopted there, it becomes a non-legislative and non-binding resolution in which the Parliament states its current position on certain matters of copyright reform. The Parliament hereby communicates to the Commission what it expects of future copyright legislation. This in turn can shape the Commission’s proposal for copyright reform, which is expected within this year. The Parliament has a notoriously short memory, especially of its own positions, so it will not consider itself bound by anything it decides upon now.
Everyone is talking about EU copyright reform. However, in the European Parliament, everyone is having the same discussions on enforcement that they were having ten years ago – and talking about stopping any reform.
The Draft Report “Towards a renewed consensus on the enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights: An EU Action Plan” (2014/2151(INI)) presented by Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Pavel Svoboda reacts supportively to the rather bland, regressive and unimaginative Commission Communication of the same name. Sadly, Mr Svoboda seems to be choosing to support the mistakes that the Commission’s view that the failures of the last ten years should be the model for the next decade.
Julia Reda, the MEP representative for the Pirate Party from Germany is the rapporteur for the European Union copyright reform dossier - that is the report on the implementation of the previous directive on this matter from 2001 (the so-called “Infosoc Directive”).
Over the past several weeks, there have been several developments concerning Australia's recently-proposed online copyright enforcement reforms. Particularly, the Australian government is in the process of adopting reforms that would allow owners of copyright-protected works and other authorized parties (collectively, "Rights Holders") to petition Australian Courts for an injunctive order to directly block foreign-hosted websites from accessing Australia. Although these proposed measures will arguably provide Rights Holders greater means to enforce rights in their works across borders, they pose a number of potentially problematic issues.
Article 5(3(h) of the InfoSoc Directive allows Member States to introduce into their own national copyright laws an exception to the rights of reproduction, communication/making available to the public and distribution to allow "use of works, such as works of architecture or sculpture, made to be located permanently in public places" - the so called freedom of panorama.
In light of a possible reform of the legislative framework in the area of copyright, the draft Report prepared by MEP and Pirate Party member Julia Reda on the implementation of the InfoSoc Directive mentioned freedom of panorama be made mandatory (rather than merely optional) for Member States to implement into their own legal regimes.
However, the amended version of the Report, which has received the approval of the Legal Committee of the European Parliament, currently includes a recommendation that "the commercial use of photographs, video footage or other images of works which are permanently located in physical public places should always be subject to prior authorisation from the authors or any proxy acting for them".
On 8 September 2016, only a few days before the European Commission will announce its plans for a copyright reform, Communia and EDRi will be organising an event to discuss some of they key issues, namely the failures of the current EU copyright law, and the situation of exceptions and limitations. The event “Copyright Reform: Unlocking copyright for users?” takes place at the European Parliament, room 6G1.