A changing digital era: Law Society and IMRO highlight significance of EU Copyright Directive ahead of World Intellectual Property Day

Article 17 addresses the ‘value gap’: the funnelling away of value from creators to online platforms

Ahead of World Intellectual Property Day 2021 (Monday 26 April) IMRO Adjunct Professor of Intellectual Property Law at the Law Society of Ireland, Dr Mark Hyland, highlights the significance of ‘Directive (EU) 2019/790 on Copyright in the Digital Single Market’, and in particular, what Article 17 will mean for Ireland’s creative industries.

Dr Hyland explains, “The backdrop to this year’s World Intellectual Property Day is the EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. A key provision in this Directive is Article 17 which will have great benefits for Ireland’s creators by addressing the so-called ‘value gap’.

Value gap
“The value gap refers to the funnelling away of value from creators and into the hands of a number of online content-sharing service providers. Essentially, Article 17 requires online platforms such as YouTube, to obtain an authorisation from the relevant rightholder before copyrighted content, such as music or movies, is made available to the public,” he explained.

“While Article 17 has been much debated over the last few years, it helps to highlight the arguably unfair and unreasonable balance between the online platform and the underlying rightholder,” Dr Hyland said.

“By addressing the value gap, the Directive is ensuring that rightholders receive appropriate payment for the online use of their works. This will be significant for creators in Ireland’s music industry, particularly given the ongoing pandemic-related challenges facing this sector. ”

IP and the music industry
“It comes as no surprise that Ireland’s music creators saw a significant drop in public performance royalties last year. Fortunately, it was also a strong year for online music thanks to the rise of video on-demand services and live streamed events, which wasn’t prevalent pre-Covid.”

“The Directive will have huge benefits for creativity in our fast-evolving digital age,” said Dr Hyland. “It will help promote the creative and cultural industries, major drivers of Ireland and Europe’s economy, and promote creators’ rights throughout the EU.”

“IP-intensive industries contribute 65% to Ireland’s GDP, which is the largest proportion of any Member State . A strong and effective IP system helps countries to realise IP’s potential for economic development and social and cultural wellbeing. Such a system ensures economic rewards for creators and provides an environment in which creativity and innovation are encouraged,” Dr Hyland said.

Copyright Directive
Member States must implement the Copyright Directive into their national laws by 7 June 2021.

“The last important revamp of EU copyright laws occurred twenty years ago, with the adoption of the Information Society Directive in 2001 , so this is another significant step in the modernisation of the EU copyright regime,” concluded Dr Hyland.

IMRO Adjunct Professorship of Intellectual Property Law
Dr Mark Hyland is the inaugural adjunct Professor of Intellectual Property Law. IMRO and the Law Society of Ireland partnered to create the role in response to the fast-changing digital landscape and the inevitable on-going effects on copyright law and practice.

The professorship is a key resource to the Law Society in broadening the knowledge base of trainee and qualified solicitors in the expanding area of IP Law. The expectation is that a solid grounding in this field of law will entice a new generation of lawyers into the music and entertainment industries.

Dr Hyland is a lecturer in the College of Business at the Technological University Dublin. His current research focuses on two main themes: website-blocking injunctions in an IP context and, how geo-location/geo-blocking technologies can be used to facilitate the territorial licensing of digital copyright works. He is a qualified solicitor and regularly contributes articles on EU IP/IT law developments to the Law Society Gazette.

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