Why the new EU Copyright Directive isn’t all bad

© by Tim Warnes 2019

© by Tim Warnes 2019

A copyright is simply: these are my words and ideas strung together in a comprehensive, complete, concrete way and I am asserting ownership in them.
— Seth Godin - Akimbo podcast: All Rights Reserved (S3 E8)

This week saw what many consider to be a win for the publishing industry (authors/illustrators in particular) when proposed changes to European copyright law (the EU Copyright Directive) were passed by the European Parliament. The main objective of the Directive: to update copyright law for the digital age - in particular, a rebalancing of the relationship between copyright holders and online platforms.

Nicola Solomon, Chief Executive of the Society of Authors, said,

“This is excellent news for authors and other creators across Europe. The Directive will modernise copyright law for the digital age and ensure that creators are properly remunerated when their work is used online."

The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society commented,

“We particularly welcome the provision set out in chapter 3 of the Directive which establishes the fundamental principle that authors should receive a proportionate share of the revenue being generated by their works.”

So far, so good. Except, of course, not everyone feels the same way.

Seth Godin (whom I admire greatly and is always worth paying attention to) claims that “it will break the internet.”

Article 13 has become particularly notorious. Giant corporations such as Google wielded their power and fuelled public opposition against it (their petition reached 5 million signatures), notably by scaremongering; whilst YouTube’s public information videos were misleading in their one-sided approach, claiming Article 13 ‘threatens hundreds of thousands of creators, artists and others employed in the creative economy.’

An alternative point of view

I’m a creator/artist employed in the creative economy - and like many others, I am especially pleased with the little publicised change to Articles 14 and 16, which focus on the exploitation of authors' (and illustrators’) work:

"Article 14 will oblige publishers to display greater transparency when sharing information with authors about the exploitation of their works. This will give authors a much clearer idea exactly how their earnings are comprised and will reveal whether or not their rights are being fully exploited by the publisher. If they are not, Article 16a stipulates that authors will be permitted to have these rights reverted. This would enable authors to self-publish their work or offer it to another publisher."

The Society of Authors

And let’s not forget a big shout out to Article 15, which introduces a ‘bestseller clause’ into legislation. Basically, where a work sells considerably better than expected, the directive will override the agreed royalty rate, thereby ensuring that the author receives a fair share of the additional and unexpected profits from the publisher - rather than having them ploughed into another monstrous advance for a celebrity author.

The result? Rather than feeling threatened, as claimed by the YouTube Creators channel, I feel valued and reassured.

What about Fair Use Dealing?

Does fair use dealing - allowed under the UK’s Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 - still apply? Because whilst every creation is automatically protected by copyright, fair dealing - similar to the US fair use rule - allows for the limited unauthorised reproduction, meaning others can comment on, remix or criticise another’s creation. At least it did. Now I’m not so sure.

If you found all that a bit heavy, here’s some light relief from Glove and Boots in their Copyright Basics video.


Seth Godin’s podcast, Akimbo: All Rights Reserved (S3 E8)

The Society of Authors - SOA welcomes Copyright Directive vote


Youtube Creators video: Article 13 - Burning Questions

The Society of Authors - Ask your MEP to support the Copyright Directive

#copyright #societyofauthors #alcs #saveyourinternet #picturesmeanbusiness #sethgodin #gloveandboots

Tim WarnesComment