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Upcoming Modernisation of Copyright: Mandatory Exceptions 

by Kriek Wille

Published: March, 2017

Submission: March, 2017


The European Commission has made a proposal for a directive that is intended to update copyright law to cope with the modern age in which online services are becoming increasingly important. The proposal is part of the 'Digital Single Market Strategy' of the EU: a set of initiatives to create a free trans-border market for online trade and content.

The proposed directive (“DSM directive”) supplements the current Copyright Directive with a number of regulations. For instance, the DSM directive introduces exceptions to copyright that all EU member states must include in their national regulations. More will therefore be permitted in the follow areas:

  • Text and data mining by research organisations. This exception means that universities and scientific research institutions, for example, can perform text and data mining (analysis of large quantities of data to establish statistical links). Data and databank suppliers will no longer be able to limit the quantity of data or require expensive licences to be purchased.
  • Education. Educational institutions may use digital content for educational purposes on, for example, their own intranet, as long as the source and author of the content are stated. The member states can choose to stipulate that the educational institutions must pay ‘fair compensation’ for the use.
  • Cultural heritage. Cultural heritage institutions may make (digital) reserve copies of works from their collections if this is necessary for their preservation. It should be noted that this does not include the right to exhibit the reserve copies.

In a number of countries, including the Netherlands, these exceptions already exist to some extent, but by giving them a mandatory character, the DSM directive provides for harmonisation and legal certainly throughout the EU. This increases the possibilities for use of copyright protected material by these organisations everywhere in the EU. It will however take some time before they can reap the fruits of this: the proposal is currently still being discussed in the Senate.









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