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2 minutes to read Posted on Tuesday March 26, 2019

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Paul Keller

Paul Keller

Policy , Open Future

European Parliament adopts the copyright directive: A boost for Europe's cultural heritage institutions

Today the European Parliament passed the final compromise text of the Copyright in the Digital Market Directive. This brings an almost five-year-long process to modernise the EU copyright framework to a close. Together with other organisations representing cultural heritage, educational and research organisations, Europeana - on behalf of our Network members - has fought over the past five years to ensure that the package approved today includes measures that meaningfully address the challenges copyright poses for Europe's cultural heritage institutions. 

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Dutch Ships in a Calm
Willem van de Velde (II), ca. 1665

We are happy to report that the text adopted today (with a majority of 348 in favour and 274 against) does indeed contain significant improvements for cultural heritage institutions that will facilitate the (mass) digitisation of out of commerce works, enable institutions to text and data mine works in their collections and ensure that digital copies of public domain works will remain in the public domain. However, we also note that many organisations in our Network are concerned about other measures in the adopted text that will introduce an additional right for press publishers and put new obligations on online platforms that may limit the way users can communicate via these platforms. 

What does this mean for cultural heritage institutions?

The EU Member States will now have two years to implement the measures adopted today into national law.

This will result in the following changes for cultural heritage institutions:

  • In those Member States where this is not the case yet, cultural heritage institutions will be allowed to make digital reproductions of all works in their collections for preservation purposes (note that this does not mean that these works can also be made available online) - Article 6 of the directive.
  • In all Member States, cultural heritage institutions (as well as research organisations) will benefit from a text and data mining exception that will allow them to employ computational analysis techniques on works in their collections for the purpose of scientific research - Article 3 of the directive.
  • In all Member States, cultural heritage institutions will be allowed to digitise and make available online in-copyright but out-of-commerce works. Depending on the types of collections in question they will be able to do so on the basis of licenses issued by collective management organisations or where such organisations do not exist or are not sufficiently representative under a new exception to copyright - Articles 8-11 of the directive.
  • Member States will also have the ability to introduce extended collective licensing systems that go beyond the narrow category of out of commerce works. In some Member States, this may result in systems that allow institutions to digitise and make available all of their collections via a single license. For now, such licenses will will be limited to individual member states and not allow cross border access to the digitised works - Article 12 of the directive.
  • Finally, those Member States in which it is currently possible to claim new rights over reproductions of public domain works will need to change their laws to stop such practices. This means that 10 years after we have issued our Public Domain Charter the principle that what is in the public domain in analogue form stays in the public domain in digital has become enshrined in law - Article 14 of the directive.

What is next for Europeana?

Our advocacy efforts have been based on an advocacy mandate that the Europeana adopted in 2014 and updated in 2016. With the end of the legislative process on the European level, we will explore what role Europeana should take during the national implementation phase. 

We will also continue in our efforts to represent the needs of the Europeana Network in the development of measures aimed at improving access to out of commerce works. Internally we will also need to review how we can help our data partners to bring the rights statements for collections in line with the new legal reality created by Article 14 of the the directive. We will share more about these follow up steps her in due time.

Finally, we want to use this opportunity to thank everybody who contributed to this much needed update of the copyright rules for cultural heritage institutions. A huge thank you to all our network members and partners involved in this effort but also to all the members of Parliament (and their staff) and the Commission and Member State officials officials who supported us in our fight.