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Promoting a fair and efficient European copyright-based economy in the Digital Single Market

Digital technologies have transformed the distribution of and access to copyright-protected content through a growing variety of online services. However, the availability of online content differs from one Member State to another and citizens are often not able to access content across borders.

Copyright exceptions allow the use of protected works without the authorisation of right holders. Such exceptions play a central role in achieving important public policy objectives at EU level. However, at present most exceptions in EU law are optional and do not have cross-border effect. Furthermore, some of them need to be re-assessed in light of today’s technological realities. The current situation holds back digital innovation in the areas of education, research and preservation of cultural heritage.

In recent years, the internet has become the main marketplace for accessing and distributing copyright-protected content. Online services now represent a major source of revenues for copyrighted material, but there is a growing concern about equitable sharing of the value generated by some of the new forms of online content distribution.

Right holders report difficulties faced when seeking to control and monetize the use of their content online, in particular in relation to online services distributing content uploaded by end-users, news-aggregators, social media, and other online services enabling access to their content. In addition, creators are often unable to negotiate an appropriate remuneration in exchange for the rights for the exploitation of their works and performances, notably because of the lack of transparency in their contractual relationships with those to which they assign their rights.

The proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market will give news publishers legal certainty and additional bargaining power in relation to online services using and enabling access to their content. It will also reinforce the position of right holders to negotiate and be remunerated for the online exploitation of their content by online services storing and giving access to large amounts of content uploaded by their users.

Finally, authors and performers will benefit from increased transparency on the exploitation of their works and performances and from improved capability to receive appropriate remuneration, which should lead to a better functioning framework for all players: legal clarity for those acquiring the rights and higher trust for authors and performers, including in the online environment.

To widen the possibilities of access to the rich and diverse offer of European audiovisual works that are produced each year, the Commission promotes (official document, auf Deutsch) the development of licencing hubs i.e. online tools that allow the digital distribution of European works also in countries where they have not been released in cinemas or where there is no national distributor.