Eurovision DSM Contest: the once in a decade copyright reform contest

Eurovision DSM ContestLicentie

This Monday, June 7, was the last official day for EU Member States to implement the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. To mark the date we launched the “Eurovision DSM contest” website. The website provides a playful overview of the implementation of the new Copyright Directive across the EU, and Member States are scored on various performance levels: on the transparency and inclusivity of the procedure, on the implementation of Article 17, and on the implementation of other provisions that are either key from a user rights perspective (the mandatory exceptions and limitations to copyright and the public domain provision) or that also have the potential to harm users’ fundamental freedoms (the new press publisher rights). A bonus point is also available to those who have excelled in any other way.

While at the beginning of the week only three Member States had fully implemented the Directive (the Netherlands, Hungary and Germany), and could therefore be scored on all performance levels, it is already possible to track the level of activity across the board. As more Member States reach the finish line, we will attribute final scores and throw them into the contest. 

The first, second and third places (so far!)

So far, Germany is the front runner: the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection held a transparent and inclusive discussion, which lasted for more than a year, and set a high standard for protecting user rights against overblocking. Hungary is in second place, in part due to the bonus point it got for fast-tracking the implementation of the new digital education exception, during the outbreak of COVID-19, having created room for remote teaching while educational institutions were closed. The Netherlands have been the first out of the door, with a draft text ready for an online consultation less than a month after the publication of the Directive, but the Dutch government failed to demonstrate its commitment to protecting user rights in the implementation, pushing it to the third place so far (with the possibility to still earn some extra points, if the Minister of Justice decides to make use of the power that received in the implementation law, to provide further rules for the application of Article 17).

France and Denmark, which have rushed to implement on time only the provisions that strengthen the position of creators and right holders, have been scored for the implementation of Articles 15 and 17, but will only officially enter the contest once they have implemented the remaining parts of the Directive.

Skipping the parliamentary debate

At this point, all Member States (except Portugal) have, in some way or another, initiated the legislative procedure, but some processes have been far from transparent or inclusive. In France and Italy, the Parliament delegated the legislative powers in the government, meaning that those countries will skip a central stage of the democratic process, which is the parliamentary debate and vote over the concrete implementation proposal put forward by the government. In France, where the Ministry of Culture went through the implementation of Articles 15 and 17 without providing any opportunity for stakeholders to share their views and concerns about those provisions, no public consultation is expected for the remaining parts of the Directive. In Italy, the Ministry of Culture is said to be planning to, at least, run a public consultation once its draft decree is finalized.

In Ireland, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation held a series of public pre-draft consultations, each focused on a different part of the Directed and all carefully prepared, but a few days ago announced that the Directive was going to be transposed into Irish law by way of regulations contained in secondary legislation, without submitting the actual draft law to public discussion and without further parliamentary debate.

In Spain, a first round of public pre-draft consultations was organized at the end of 2019, but since then the Ministry of Culture went silent, leaving meeting requests by civil society representatives unanswered, while at the same time meeting with collecting societies and other industry representatives. Most recently, there have been rumours of a Royal Decree that would give the Spanish government the power to also implement the Directive without any further parliamentary deliberation.

Portugal is the slowest country so far (it has not published any draft text and has not even organized a public consultation), and civil society representatives have also been treated less favourably by the Ministry of Culture than representatives of rightholders: the latter have been invited to provide feedback on the implementation and have been granted the opportunity to meet with the Minister of Culture, while meeting requests sent by civil society organisations (including by COMMUNIA) to the Ministry have been left unanswered.

Meaningful consultation procedures: some more, others less

Fortunately, the procedures in that handful of countries seem to be the exception, rather than the rule. The vast majority of Member States attempted to give all stakeholders, and not only a selected few, opportunities to participate in the discussions. Some countries decided to consult stakeholders at the very beginning of the process, before embarking in the drafting process, others kept discussions alive throughout the process, and others yet reserved most time for dialogue after releasing the draft.

Of the 19 Member States that organized pre-consultation processes, 8 held formal consultations, 8 opted for setting up working groups or entering into other forms of dialogue with stakeholders on the provisions of the Directive, and only 3 organized both a consultation and meetings with stakeholders before starting the drafting process. After the release of the draft, 7 countries organized formal consultations, 6 engaged in dialogues with stakeholders, and 2 (Germany and the Netherlands) opted by running formal consultations and engaging also in constructive dialogues with the stakeholders.

So far, Greece, Italy, Finland, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Poland, Spain, Sweden are the only countries that have not publicly released any draft implementation text. France and Denmark have yet to release proposals for the parts of the Directive that have not yet been implemented.

It is safe to say that the Eurovision DSM contest is far from over, and that the results can still change dramatically. We will keep tracking the process and updating not only each country’s scores, but also each country’s page in our implementation tracker, where detailed information and documentation about each process can be found.

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