This is the press release summarizing the report. To view the blog post, click here.

EU copyright rules are maladapted to the increase of cross-border cultural exchange facilitated by the Internet, an upcoming European Parliament own-initiative report evaluating 2001’s copyright directive finds. The draft released today by Julia Reda, MEP for the German Pirate Party, lays out an ambitious reform agenda for the overhaul of EU copyright announced in the Commission’s 2015 work programme.

“The EU copyright directive was written in 2001, in a time before YouTube or Facebook. Although it was meant to adapt copyright to the digital age, in reality it is blocking the exchange of knowledge and culture across borders today“, Reda explains. “We need a common European copyright that safeguards fundamental rights and makes it easier to offer innovative online services in the entire European Union.”

Outdated and fragmented copyright rules “put an unreasonable burden on everyday online activities”, the report’s accompanying explanatory statement describes: “Those who are accessing, transforming and creating new works while being located or using resources in different member states can find the system burdensome, while facing legal uncertainty”. With rules dating from 2001, “cultural heritage institutions are increasingly struggling to fulfil their public interest mission”. The report also recommends “improv[ing] the negotating position of authors and performers in relation to other rightholders and intermediaries”.

Drawing on the responses to a public consultation on the topic by the Commission in 2014 as well as scientific studies, the report calls for common European rules: “The goals set out in the [copyright] directive can be best achieved with the introduction of a Single European Copyright Title“, it states, emphasising the need to “allow equal access […] across borders” to achieve the goal of a digital single market.

The report calls for the harmonization of copyright terms and exceptions across Europe, new exceptions for emerging use cases like audio-visual quotation, e-lending and text and data mining, as well as the adoption of an open norm to “allow for the adaptation to unanticipated new forms of cultural expression”. It recommends “exempting works produced by the public sector […] from copyright protection” and demands that “exercise of exceptions or limitations […] should not be hindered by technological measures”.

Alongside the document, Julia Reda, a Vice President of the Greens/EFA group, has published a list of 86 copyright-related lobby meeting requests she received since her election last May, demonstrating the wide interest in the issue and the variety of stakeholder opinions taken into account. She is also inviting comments by the public on her draft on a collaborative Internet platform.

The report will now pass through the Legal Affairs committee (with a vote expected on April 16) and finally the plenary of the Parliament. For the Commission, VP Andrus Ansip will present his Digital Single Market strategy in May, and Commissioner Guenther Oettinger’s legislative proposal on copyright reform is expected for September this year.

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