The EU is taking steps to increase the number of TV and radio programmes available online for European consumers. The Council today adopted a directive which will facilitate the licensing of copyright-protected material contained in such programmes so that they can be made available throughout the EU.
These new rules will provide wider access to online content for the European citizens and will enhance European cultural diversity, as rightholders will be adequately rewarded for their works. This is another great benefit of the EU's Digital Single Market.
Valer Daniel Breaz, Romanian Minister for Culture and National Identity
Facilitating clearance of rights for online services ancillary to broadcasts
Users increasingly expect to have access to television and radio programmes at a time and place of their choice. Broadcasting organisations are therefore increasingly offering, in addition to their traditional broadcasts of television and radio programmes, online services ancillary to their broadcast. Such services consist of parallel transmissions over the Internet (simulcasting) and the possibility to view or listen to a programme later than at the time of the original broadcast (catch-up services).
In order to make these services available across borders, broadcasting organisations need to clear the rights to works and other protected subject matter contained in their broadcasts for all relevant territories. The directive will facilitate this rights clearance by allowing broadcasting organisations to clear all relevant rights in the member state of their principal establishment.
The directive covers all radio programmes, TV news and current affairs programmes as well as TV programmes which are fully financed own productions of the broadcasting organisations. Existing contracts will remain unaffected for a period of four years from the entry into force of the directive. The Commission will assess the need for extending this coverage to additional types of TV programmes six years after the entry into force of the directive.
Clearance of cross-border retransmission rights
In addition, the directive facilitates the clearance of rights where a radio or TV programme broadcast in one member state is retransmitted simultaneously, unaltered and unabridged in another member state.
It covers retransmissions carried out via cable, satellite, digital terrestrial, closed circuit IP-based or mobile networks. It also covers retransmissions carried through the open internet provided that they take place in a managed environment, i.e. they are subject to some kind of digital identification.
For the types of retransmissions covered by the directive, the rights to works and other subject matter contained in the broadcast shall have to be cleared through a collective management society. The collective management society in question shall also be entitled to clear rights belonging to rightholders who have not transferred their rights to it.
The directive clarifies the legal status of the so-called "direct injection" technique, i.e. when a broadcaster transmits its programme-carrying signals to signal distributors in such a way that these signals are not accessible to the public during that transmission. In such a case, only a single act of communication to the public is deemed to occur. This means that both the broadcaster and the signal distributor will have to clear the underlying rights.
Following the signature and publication of the directive in the Official Journal of the EU, member states will have 24 months to transpose the new rules into their national law.