HARMONISATION OF COPYRIGHT
Unofficial Presidency text of the draft Directive on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society.
||Articles 47(2), 55 and 95 EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
||Trade and Industry|
|Basis of consideration:
||Minister's letter of 21 February 2001
|Previous Committee Report:
||HC 23-xx (1999-2000), paragraph 15 (7 June 2000)
|To be discussed in Council:
||No date set|
||Cleared (decision reported on 17 May 2000)
14.1 On 14 February we wrote to the Parliamentary
Under-Secretary of State for Consumers and Corporate Affairs at
the Department of Trade and Industry (Dr Kim Howells) and drew
to his attention a letter printed in The Times on 13 February.
In it, the General Secretary of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain
and others called on the Government to ensure that a European
Parliament amendment to the draft Directive did not become law.
They asserted that the clause would:
"allow the BBC, ITV
and other broadcasters to re-use or sell on everything in their
archives without reference to creators and on payment of 'equitable
remuneration', a concept included in the Rental and Lending Directive
of 1996 which, our members tell us, has been of negligible benefit".
14.2 When we cleared an unofficial Presidency
Text of this draft Directive on 17 May 2000, we sought a more
specific assurance than the Minister had given in his Explanatory
Memorandum of 16 May that it achieved an equitable balance between
the rights of significant interest groups and those of rightholders.
On 7 June we considered a letter from the Minister in which he
provided a convincing account of his awareness of the concerns
of the different interest groups and of the Government's efforts
to arrive at a satisfactory compromise. He said that he believed
that the Presidency text had "the makings of a workable compromise".
14.3 In our letter of 14 February, we sought
an assurance from the Minister that he would submit an Explanatory
Memorandum on the amended text after the European Parliament's
Second Reading, in time for the Committee to scrutinise it before
it was put to the Council. We asked him not to wait for an amended
text from the Commission, if this was not immediately available.
The Minister's letter
14.4 In reply, the Minister says that at
its plenary session on 14 February, the European Parliament approved
nine amendments to the Common Position. While the Government welcomed
the fact that the European Parliament had decided not to seek
to amend the Directive extensively, the Minister said that it
would need to consider these amendments carefully with the other
Member States and the Commission. Its preliminary view was that
it would need to look particularly closely at Amendments 5 to
9 of the Directive, which appear to limit further the flexibility
for Member States in the exceptions provisions in Article 5 of
the Directive. The Minister comments:
"We know other Member
States share our desire to maintain as far as possible the balance
of the Common Position, and I would hope that informal discussions
in the coming weeks will be sufficiently productive to forestall
the need to convene the Conciliation Committee on this proposal."
14.5 The Minister goes on to say that he
fully takes our point about a timely Explanatory Memorandum and
that this is being prepared. In conclusion, the Minister says
that he is:
"pleased to note that
the amendment which was the subject of the letter printed in The
Times on 13 February was decisively rejected by the plenary. I
have already written to John Monks who will no doubt have passed
on this good news to the Writer's Guild and co-authors of The
Times letter. We too considered this amendment to the Directive
on the use of archive material by broadcasters to be unjustified
14.6 We thank the Minister for his timely
and informative reply and look forward to receiving his Explanatory
Memorandum on the European Parliament amendments in due course.