Documents considered by the Committee on 15 May 2019 Contents

4Copyright in the Digital Single Market

Committee’s assessment

Legally and politically important

Committee’s decision

Cleared from scrutiny; drawn to the attention of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee

Document details

Proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market

Legal base

Article 114; ordinary legislative procedure; QMV


Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Document Number

(38076), 12254/16 + ADDs 1–4, COM(16), 593

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

4.1The proposed Directive forms part of the Commission’s “Copyright in the Digital Single Market” package of September 2016. Its broad range of measures was summarised in the first Report on this matter to our predecessor Committee, referenced at the end of this Chapter.

4.2Following the Committee’s previous Report the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation (Chris Skidmore MP) has written15 to update the Committee on the progress of the proposal, and informs the Committee that the Council formally adopted the proposed Directive on 15 April 2019

Press publishers’ right

4.3We asked the Minister to provide further information on what he considers the focus of any “judicial interpretation” would be for the press publishers’ right.

4.4The Minister responded by explaining that in the UK press publishers typically own the copyright in the works they publish, and the author is usually paid a salary or fee through a contractual arrangement. It is currently not clear how this approach will work with the new press publishers’ right. Accordingly, the Minister sets out that judicial interpretation may be required to

determine the extent to which it changes the existing contractual arrangements between press publishers and journalists, and whether publishers are expected to share any revenues from the right directly with the authors… .

Online liability

4.5We asked the Minister to provide further information on what the industry standards of professional diligence would be in the UK.

4.6The Minister elaborates that the European Commission will produce guidance on the application of that provision, in consultation with Member States, online content sharing service providers, right-holders, user associations and other relevant stakeholders.

Implementation of the Directive

4.7We asked the Minister to indicate the approach that the UK would take to voluntarily adopting the Directive into UK law if the 24 month transposition period were to conclude after the end of any implementation period in the context of a negotiated exit from the EU. We further asked the Minster to provide information on the implications of the Directive for the UK as a third country rather than a Member State.

4.8The Minster explains that, if the transposition period for the Directive were to end after the end of any implementation period, the UK would not be able to implement it using powers under the 2018 Withdrawal Act. Accordingly, the Government would need to pass separate legislation to do so. The Minister does not indicate whether the Government would be minded to pursue this route, instead stating that the Government “continues to keep the copyright framework under review and … will pay careful attention to reforms made by the EU and other partners. Any policy proposals after the implementation period will follow the normal course of domestic policy making, including a public consultation.”.

4.9The Minster informs the Committee that the question of the application of the Directive after the UK’s exit from the EU will depend on the nature of the future relationship with the EU. He further notes that any online service providers that communicate works to the public in the EU will need to comply with the obligations set out in Article 17 (online liability), irrespective of where they are based, and that the provisions in Article 15 (press publishers’ right) will only apply to businesses established in the EU, meaning the application of this provision will depend on the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

4.10We thank the Minister for the information that he has provided in his letter.

4.11On the basis of this information and given that the Directive has now been approved by the Council, we are content to clear this document from scrutiny and do not request any further information. We draw this document and chapter to the attention of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee.

Full details of the documents

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on copyright in the Digital Single Market 12254/16 + ADDs 1, 2, 3 & 4: (38076), COM(16) 593.

Previous Committee Reports

Seventeenth Report HC 71–xv (2016–17), chapter 5 (2 November 2016); Thirtieth Report HC 301–xxix (2017–19), chapter 2 (6 June 2018); Sixty-first Report HC301–lix, chapter 1 (27 March 2019).

15 Letter from Chris Skidmore MP to Sir William Cash MP, dated 25 April 2019

Published: 21 May 2019