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Today, the Council of the European Union has approved the directive on the exercise of copyright and related rights applicable to certain online transmissions of broadcasting organizations and retransmissions of television and radio programs. This represents another step forward in the creation of a European Union Digital Single Market.

The main aim of the regulation is to allow broadcasters that want to offer protected content in more than one Member State to obtain the necessary authorizations. Until now, the inherent territoriality of copyright and similar rights caused practical difficulties for broadcasters that wanted licenses from right holders in more than one Member State.  Broadcasters had to negotiate on an individual basis with the rights holders of different kinds of works and protected content to acquire rights in each Member State.

In the press release the European Parliament issued on 2019 March, 2019, it recognized the importance of radio and television programs as “essential sources of information, culture and entertainment for European citizens.”

The directive allows broadcasters that want to transmit their content in more than one Member State to obtain the necessary licenses from the collection management entities representing rights holders in the country where their main establishment is, which will be considered the “country of origin.” Therefore, broadcasters will be able to more easily show online protected content in more than one Member State.

The principle of country of origin will apply to all radio and certain television programs, such as news and current affairs, and programs fully funded by the broadcasters. Under the directive, sporting events and television productions acquired from third parties or commissioned to independent producers are excluded from the scope of the regulation. The directive will be reviewed in six years, when its scope could be broadened.

As a result, the directive will enable a greater range of radio and television programs to be available online, and via satellite, digital terrestrial and mobile networks, because it will make it easier for licenses to be obtained for retransmission through means other than cable, such as internet.

To meet that objective, the directive broadens the collective management system (currently applied to retransmission services provided by cable under Directive 93/83/EEC on satellite and cable to retransmission through other means such as internet and satellite technologies. This system will also help authors and other rights holders to be paid adequately.

Lastly, for works used in programs retransmitted through a “direct injection” process, the directive offers greater legal certainty, enabling rights holders to receive appropriate remuneration when the works and protected subject-matter are used in programs retransmitted in this system. Direct injection is a procedure that many broadcasters use, in which they send content to distributors and they transmit to the public, instead of the transmission taking place directly through waves or cables.

The text approved by the council gives Member States 24 months to adapt their laws to the new directive.

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