The Society of Authors broadly supports the Copyright Directive, which sets out to modernise copyright law for the digital age.
The most important elements of the Directive for authors are Articles 14 – 16 which would balance the playing field for creators by legislating for improved contract terms. They would force publishers to be more transparent when reporting accounting information to authors, introduce a contract adjustment mechanism (or “bestseller clause”) and introduce a dispute resolution mechanism.
The Directive has gained significant attention in the press and on social media in recent days, which has particularly centred around Article 13. Unfortunately a lot of misinformation has been spread about this and other parts of the Directive.
Article 13 seeks to fix the “value gap” — the discrepancy in earnings between those who make creative works and online content sharing providers that derive huge revenues from the use of those works on their platforms. The new law would force commercial platforms to obtain a licence to ensure that they are using copyrighted material in a way that returns a fair rate of reward to creators and rights-holders. No new restrictions would be placed upon users.
The Directive will now come back to the European Parliament in September for debate and another vote. MEPs will have the option to approve the current report as the basis for trilogue negotiations with Council and Commission, approve it with amendments, or reject it.
We set out our views on the Directive in detail in our submission to the Intellectual Property Office in December 2016, which you can download, below.
For more information you can also read the following statement from the British Copyright Council (BCC). The Society of Authors is a member of the BCC and our Chief Executive Nicola Solomon sits on its Board.
Nicola Solomon, Chief Executive of the Society of Authors, said:
I am disappointed by the result of today’s vote. The Copyright Directive contains important provisions to update copyright law for the digital age, and maintains the balance between rightsholders and users.
It is particularly important for authors and other creators that the proposals contained in Articles 14 to 16 are implemented. These elements of the Directive are non-controversial and would strengthen the law around creator contracts.
MEPs will debate the Directive again later in the year, and I hope that a solution can be reached so that these advantageous reforms for authors are not thrown off the table.