In the recent years, the internet has become the main marketplace for the distribution of and access to copyright protected content, involving a high number of market players and a diversity of business models. While online content services have become essential for the generation of revenues, rightholders face difficulties when seeking to monetise and control the distribution of their content online. There is a growing concern about the sharing of the value generated by some of the new forms of online content distribution.
The issues faced by rightholders with regard to services that store and give access to large amounts of protected content uploaded by their users need to be addressed at EU level given the general cross-border nature of those services which are used by the public to consume content online. EU level action is needed in order to avoid possible fragmentation that could be generated by initiatives from MS establishing obligations on such services, and to ensure more level playing field for services involved in content distribution.
The problems faced today by news publishers have been identified by several EU MS. Some of them, notably DE and ES, have adopted different legislative solutions at national level to address them. However, national solutions lack scale and may give rise to market fragmentation in the news publishing sector. Intervention at the EU level is therefore needed to address effectively the problems faced by the publishing industry.
Moreover, recent case-law has sparked off uncertainty in some MS concerning the possibility to keep long-existing national systems allowing publishers to have a share of the compensation stemming from exceptions and limitations to copyright and MS whose national compensation schemes are more directly impacted have started considering passing national legislation but it is not clear to what extent they can do so under the current EU rules. The necessary certainty in this regard can only be achieved by legislative intervention at EU level.
The general objective is to achieve a copyright marketplace and value chain that works efficiently for all players and gives the right incentives for investment in and dissemination of creative content.
Specific objectives have been identified in each of the area covered: (i) ensure that rightholders benefit from a legal framework allowing them 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; and that there is a fair environment for all types of online content services; (ii) ensure a fair share of revenues stemming from the use of publications among the different players of the publishing value chain and (iii) increase legal certainty, transparency and balance in the system that governs the remuneration of creators.
Two types of problems are reflecting two aspects of the value chain: those faced ‘upstream’ by rightholders when trying to license their content to certain online content services (difficulties to negotiate on a fair basis and to obtain remuneration) and those faced ‘downstream’ by creators when negotiating contracts for the exploitation of their works (lack of transparency on the exploitation of the works). The latter are not specific to the online environment but have been exacerbated by the multiple forms of exploitation existing online.