The IMCO Committee votes on the European Copyright File

The Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) at the European Parliament voted on its opinion on the Commission’s proposal on the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive on the 8 June. IMCO is one of the five Committees which will review and propose amendments to the proposed Directive, before the Parliament agrees on its overall position.

The Opinion was adopted by 19 votes in favour, 7 votes against and 6 abstentions. Despite the very good job done by the Committee Rapporteur MEP Catherine Stihler, some negative amendments have nevertheless been adopted.

Starting with the good news, MEP Arimont’s “alternative” compromise amendments on articles 11 and 13 were not adopted. They expanded copyright protection unnecessarily and extended the new press publishers’ rights to academic publications, which would represent a real threat to culture and research in Europe.

The compromise amendment on article 4 (illustration for teaching) was adopted. On the good side, it modifies article 4 so that it applies both to digital and non-digital education, and allows cultural heritage institutions that do not offer “formal” education to benefit from the exception. Also, a provision forbidding override by contractual terms has been included.

The Committee also adopted the compromise amendments on the use of out-of-commerce works by cultural heritage institutions, which would create an exception allowing the use of both out of commerce and never in commerce works where no collective management organisation is broadly representative of rightholders in the category of work.

Furthermore, the Opinion amends article 5 to make it an exception for reproduction of works by Cultural Heritage Institutions “for the purpose of, individually or collaboratively with others, carrying out their public interest mission in preservation, research, culture, education and teaching” and not for the only purpose of preservation.

On the bad side, Member States can still cancel out the exception for illustration for teaching if equivalent extended collective licensing agreements authorising the acts are affordable and easily available in the market. We believe that when it is a question of pure illustration for teaching, it is not appropriate to burden educators with such costs. Moreover, there are no additional provisions on eLending, on-the-premises access to library digital collections or document delivery.

Furthermore, the exception on text and data mining does not give anyone with legitimate access to works the right to mine, although the extension to libraries and cultural heritage institutions is welcome. We have been advocating for a broader exception that would help improve research in Europe. Some slightly good improvements with regards to the text proposed by the Commission are the reference to the software Directive, to which the exception would apply, and the unenforceability of technological protection measures.

Last but not least, very worrying amendments to Article 6 that could prove very harmful to the system of exceptions and limitations in Europe were adopted. First of all, the revision to the first paragraph makes a mockery of the law by protecting digital rights management which prevents users from benefitting from limitations and exceptions on materials acquired by licence.

Secondly, the second (new) paragraph of article 6 of the IMCO opinion reads the following:

“Access to content permitted by an exception or limitation shall not give the beneficiary of the exception or limitation the right to use the content concerned in the context provided for by another exception or limitation”.

Such a provision would undermine the way exceptions and limitations now work in Europe. This runs counter both to extensive jurisprudence, and to the effectiveness of libraries and cultural heritage institutions in Europe.

The IMCO Committee has been the first to vote on the Copyright in the Digital Single Market file. It sets up some good examples, notably on out of commerce works, that we recommend following, but further improvements should be done if we aim at a Directive that effectively responds to the needs of culture, research and education in a European Digital Single Market.