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Copyright Reform Approved: Everything You Need to Know

The European Council has approved the so-called copyright reform, which is also extended to the internet: so the EU wants to protect the authors of online content.

Approval of the European directive on copyright in the digital single market: this is what this consists of copyright reform, the positions of those in favor or against, what will change, and the situation in Italy.

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<p>On March 26 the so-called Copyright Reform in Europe was approved, with <strong>348 votes in favor</strong> which brought the proposal to become official for all 28 member countries of the European Community. The new one<strong> Directive 2016/0280 (COD)</strong> deals with the regulation of the management and dissemination of copyrighted material, ie copyright, now also extended to the internet.</p>
<p>The proposal, conceived as far back as 2016, has the intent as a <strong>guarantee the right compensation to those who produce content</strong>, whether they are publishers or journalists, but also musicians and artists in general. At the moment, the platforms of technology giants, like Google or Facebook, are the main players in the dissemination of copyrighted content: indexing or the possibility of sharing of protected contents until today did not include the responsibility for any violations of copyright, exclusive competence of the holder of the right.</p>
<p>What the new European directive aims to do, instead, to overturn the situation: the responsibility in case of violations of the copyright right now of the platforms that allow its free circulation, which must thus guarantee the <strong>protection of rights relating to the authorship of intellectual works</strong>.</p>
<p>For many, this maneuver could be an additional tool in the hands of the EU to tax large technology companies that, in some cases, still prove unobtrusive of European tax laws.</p>
<h2><span class=The two opposing factions

The positions of those who have openly declared themselves against the new European copyright reform have been spreading on the web for some time, while there are not a few groups affected by this trend reversal authorized by the new legislation. Broadly speaking, publishers and artists finally see the rights to their creations recognized, as well as a supposed compensation for the use of their work, while on the other hand those who do not agree with what has just been approved by the European Council indirectly support the positions of technology giants.

In addition to the convenience of big technology corporations, citizen groups and some organizations are protesting because of concerns about the consequences of applying the new European law.

The articles of discord

In particular, there are two articles of the directive that have caused more sensation, namely Article 11, previously dubbed link tax, and Article 13, which today is called Article 17.

Article 11, relating to Protection of journalistic publications in case of digital use reads:

  1. Member States recognize newspaper publishers the rights referred to in Article 2 and Article 3, paragraph 2 of Directive 2001/29 / EC for the digital use of their journalistic publications.
  2. The rights referred to in paragraph 1 do not modify and do not in any way affect those provided by Union law for authors and other rights holders with respect to works and other material included in a journalistic publication. They cannot be invoked against such authors and other rights holders and, in particular, they cannot deprive them of the right to exploit their works and other material independently of the journalistic publication in which they are included.
  3. Articles 5 to 8 of Directive 2001/29 / EC and Directive 2012/28 / EU apply, mutatis mutandis, to the rights referred to in paragraph 1.
  4. The rights referred to in paragraph 1 expire 20 years after the publication of the journalistic nature. This deadline calculated from 1 January of the year following the date of publication.

While the text of Article 13, on Use of protected content by information society service providers that store and give access to large amounts of works and other material uploaded by users reports:

  1. The providers of information society services that store and give public access to large quantities of works or other material uploaded by users adopt, in collaboration with the right holders, measures aimed at ensuring the functioning of the agreements concluded with them for the use of their works or other material or to prevent certain works or other material identified by the holders of the rights through collaboration with the same providers from being made available on their services. Such measures, such as the use of effective content recognition technologies, are adequate and proportionate. Service providers provide right holders with adequate information on the operation and activation of the measures and, where appropriate, properly report on the recognition and use of the works and other material.
  2. Member States shall ensure that service providers referred to in paragraph 1 establish complaint and redress mechanisms to be made available to users in the event of disputes concerning the application of the measures referred to in paragraph 1.
  3. Member States shall, where appropriate, facilitate collaboration between information society service providers and right holders through dialogues between stakeholders, in order to define best practices, such as the use of appropriate and proportionate technologies for recognition of the contents, taking into account among other things the nature of the services, the availability of the technologies and their effectiveness in the light of technological developments.

The full text of the proposal for the copyright reform can be consulted in Italian online.

In a nutshell, Article 11 provides for the use of licenses between publishers and distribution platforms like Google or Facebook, to grant the latter the possibility of using works protected by copyright law. This concession, moreover, regulated on the basis of a monetary compensation: in this way, the European Parliament is activated to obtain more equity in the world of digital market, trying to guarantee compensation also to the authors of content circulating on the web, thanks to which today only a few large companies can make the most of the economic benefits.

Article 13 on copyright, however, which in the official directive takes the name of article 17, provides that the responsibility for violations of copyright is platforms that allow indexing or sharing on the web. Practically, it translates intofilter application that prevent the unauthorized loading of copyrighted material: although some services already offer this type of protection, such as the Content ID system of YouTube, given the huge amount of content uploaded every day on the internet, at present this type of skimming would seem rather difficult to implement, despite the ever more advanced tools and technologies, and the concerns of many lead back to a sort of indiscriminate censorship of online content.

The death of the internet

Those who opposed the copyright reform ask themselves: if the big players of technology, and of the internet in particular, are able to exercise a power so strong as to decide the rules of the game, the new European directive could lead them to leave the European territory? In this light, if Google or Facebook, just to mention the most striking examples, refused to pay for the licensing of publishers, for example, the major newspapers could be completely cut off from any form of indexing or sharing by means of platforms themselves.

however, it should be considered that the directive does not oblige copyright holders to act according to the new copyright reform: those who fear being damaged from this point of view can still renounce the stipulation of a license contract.

However,Axel VossGerman MEP, one of the main promoters of the reform, has rejected all concerns, claiming that the new legislation will not kill the internet as some fear, but will be able to improve it by allowing more equitable distribution of economic benefits taken from online content entry.

And Wikipedia?

Many have been worried about the darkening of Wikipedia the day before the sentence, but in reality the famous online encyclopedia excluded from the discourse of copyright reform, as well as non-profit portals, but also creations like memes or GIFs and free uses for citations, criticism, or parodies. Furthermore, the rules will not be so restrictive for small start-ups, allowing them to grow unhindered at least from this point of view.

What really changes with copyright reform

The new copyright directive will surely bring about a change in the internet that we know today but, unless there is a distortion in the content offer, nothing will change for users. The situation will change for the technology giants, who will be required to acquire licenses necessary, and to equip themselves with appropriate filters to prevent violations of copyright, as well as becoming responsible for them. From the opposite side, on the other hand, the authors or copyright holders will be able to enjoy greater advantages, especially of an economic nature.

The situation in Italy

Italy, as a member of the European Union, is obliged to implement the new directive approved by the European Parliament: it means that cannot escape its application, but it can adapt it in keeping with its contrary position, already expressed in February together with Luxembourg, Finland, Poland and the Netherlands. Even in Italy the new directive must be respected, therefore, but according to adaptation modeled on our system.


For many, the risk is that each European Community country will be able to adapt to the new directive, making things even more complicated, but what is certain is that it was launched in 2016, approved in 2019, and that it will definitively enter into force starting in 2021: a truly mammoth time lapse to apply legislation with the accelerated pace of the internet and rapid changes in the web.

Before the final implementation, however, there will be time and way to deepen the impact of the new directive as well as its application methods, which at the moment is at the most too generic and not yet feasible from a technical point of view on each specific case.

What we can take good, however, is that the reform is leading people to ask questions about the lawfulness of sharing copyrighted material, bringing the right focus on the often trampled rights of content creators.