Keeping up with the Copyright Directive

Copyright reform in the EU has been in progress for many years now. In September 2016 the EU Commission proposed a new directive to update its copyright framework after years of public consultation. Since then, we have seen much negotiation and several amendments to the proposal. The most controversial parts of the proposed EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market are of course Article 11 [press publishers rights, Katposts here] and Article 13, which was intended to address the so-called “value gap” [Katposts here]. See Katpost here for views from Jaime de Mendoza Fernandez (Legal Officer DG CNECT, European Commission, Brussels) and Tobias McKenney (Senior EU IP Policy Manager, Google). 

The final text has now been agreed and will be put to the Parliamentary vote in the coming weeks. Keeping up with the Kardashain's copyright reform can be tricky, so here is a consolidated overview:

What’s the latest?

Opening up the Pandora's box of EU copyright reform
On 13th February 2019, the European Parliament and the Council concluded the trilogue negotiations with a final proposed text for the new EU Copyright Directive. A press release confirmed that the Council had reached a provisional agreement with the European Parliament on a draft directive, [Katpost here] and here is the agreed text. The agreement was then submitted for confirmation by member states at the Council. On Wednesday 20th February the Council of Ministers endorsed the agreement.

What will happen next?

Today, Tuesday 26th February 2019 at 3pm in Brussels, the JURI Committee will vote on the provisional agreement resulting from the inter-institutional negotiations of the trilogue. Then, for the directive to come into force, it needs to be put to the Parliament's plenary vote, where all 751 MEPs can vote to accept or reject the bill. This will take place in late March or in April.

With such a controversial proposal, and the looming European Elections taking place in May 2019, it is hard to say which way the vote will swing. In the 'vote-reject' corner you will find the likes of Google and Facebook, who have been criticised for their campaigning but, Politico created a fascinating power matrix back in 2017 that puts these players in the top-right for loud and powerful... [Academics such as myself apparently hiding away in the bottom-left as quiet and weak!]

Italy, Finland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Poland voted against the deal. A joint statement was released declaring that, in their view, the final text of the Directive fails to deliver adequately on the aims that the directive intended to achieve, namely enhance the good functioning of the internal market and to stimulate innovation, creativity, investment and production of new content, also in the digital environment.

According to Pledge, 23 members of the European Parliament have pledged to vote against the directive, including representatives 1 from the UK (for what it’s worth), 3 from Austria, 1 from Estonia, 1 from France, 11 from Germany, 1 from Italy, 1 from the Netherlands, 1 from Poland, 1 from Portugal, 1 from Sweden and 1 from Spain.

People across the EU have taken to the streets to protest against the controversial articles proposed in the directive, and more are scheduled. Over 4,885,089 have signed an online petition.

On the 'vote-accept' side there are thirty organisations from across the cultural and creative sectors published a statement calling on EU member states and the European Parliament to adopt the text of the Copyright Directive as agreed in trilogue last week. GEMA Society for Musical Performance and Mechanical Reproduction Rights have also publicly supported the directive. 

The EU Commission from Ireland has said that the new laws “will reinforce position of European authors & performers in the digital environment and enhance high-quality journalism in the EU.” In a press conference by Axel Voss (EPP, DE), rapporteur, and Sajjad Karim (ECR, UK) on the trilogue deal on the copyright directive for the digital single market, Karim claimed that the campaigns about the directive goes against the grain of a democratic nation

Harry Potter [The European Commission] and the Inappropriate Blog Post...

Shortly after the trilogue agreement earlier in February, the European Commission posted a blog titled: The Copyright Directive: how the mob was told to save the dragon and slay the knight. The post was not well received.

The passive-aggressive [in my opinion] blog was inevitably removed, but thanks to the internet you can still see a copy of what it said here and here! It has since been replaced by the following text: “This article published by the Commission services was intended to reply to concerns, but also to misinterpretations that often surround the copyright directive proposal. We acknowledge that its language and title were not appropriate and we apologise for the fact that it has been seen as offending. That is why we removed this article from our Medium account.”

MEP Timeo Wölken brought up the blog post during the JURI meeting on 18th February, saying: “It’s not an angry mob – it’s concerned young people who are worried about disappearing culture – and that is a major concern.” Apparently, EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel apologised for the blog post, stating that she had not authorized its publication.

Stay tuned for further updates on the directive and the drama... 

Keeping up with the Copyright Directive Keeping up with the Copyright Directive Reviewed by Hayleigh Bosher on Tuesday, February 26, 2019 Rating: 5


  1. The blog post wasn't just passive aggressive, it was also extremely patronising. It strongly implied that the millions of opponents to the copyright directive were stupid, didn't understand the directive, and were being manipulated by Facebook and Google. It also used extremely cringey memes and phrases in an attempt to appeal to younger readers.

    The directive deserves to fail because of the blog post alone.

  2. Thank you for this informative article. The joint statement link seems to be broken in the article; here it is:

  3. Is this bill created to defend the interests of artists and writers... or of the lawyers, agents and empresarios who live off them? I guess we shall never know.

  4. UPDATE: As expected the committee voted through the draft agreement yesterday (16 for, 9 against) now it comes down to the 751 MEP vote at the 25-28th March plenary. So far 60 MEPs have publicly pledged to vote against the bill..

    Also thanks for the link Rosie!


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