7 Juni 2021

Implementation of the European directive on the digital single market: Member States go into extra time

In June 2019, the European Union’s Digital Single Market Directive entered into force. This Directive contains several articles dedicated to cultural institutions such as libraries, archives, museums and research and educational institutions.  7 June 2021 marks the deadline for the transposition (i.e. making the necessary changes in national law) of the Directive for the European Union’s Member States, although it is one that all but a small number will miss, taking the transposition process to extra time.

What does the Directive contain and why does it matter for libraries? 

The Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (DCDSM) sets out a number of goals Member States should achieve, but leaves them some flexibility in how they get there. This means that the legal texts leave room for countries to organize themselves nationally while respecting the European Directive.

A number of the articles in DCDSM aim to address specific needs of cultural institutions such as libraries, archives, museums and educational and research institutions. They allow the creation of the legal procedure to identify what is legal, what is not, the procedures to remunerate the creators fairly.

  • Articles 3 and 4 - Text and Data Mining
  • Article 5 - Use of Works in Teaching Activities
  • Article 6 - Preservation of Cultural Heritage
  • Article 7 - Contract Override and Technological Protection Measures
  • Articles 8 - 11 - Out-of-Commerce Works
  • Article 14 - Works of Visual Art in the Public Domain
  • Article 15 - Press Publishers Right
  • Article 17 - Use of Protected content by online content-sharing service providers.

If you want to know more, discover our guidelines

Countries on the finish line and those playing overtime

Only 3 countries, The Netherlands, Germany and Hungary, have already transposed the full Directive before the deadline. The Netherlands was the most reactive team in this process, followed by Hungary. 

Germany mobilised towards the end of the time limit, while other countries started to transpose articles sporadically: France validated articles 15 and 17 of the Directive in record time, even ahead of the publication of Guidance by the European Commission giving recommendations on the latter article (EU’s recommendations).

Many countries have admitted that they are going into extra time on the transposition field, with more time needed for  the parliamentary process (Croatia, Estonia, Italy), studying final drafts laws (Finland, Slovenia, Romania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechia, Lithuania, Denmark, Slovakia), or preparing pre-drafts (Greece, Latvia, Malta, Norway, Poland, Spain and Sweden), while some are not yet on the field (Portugal).

When will the game end?

It is not yet clear how much more time countries will need to complete transposition. In particular, some countries that have rushed to implement Article 17 may have to rethink their plans in the light of the Commission’s guidance.

IFLA will remain vigilant and assist its members in the remaining consultations.

Even in those countries which have already passed laws, there may well be more to do, for example in passing regulations to provide necessary details, as well as the practicalities of implementing the new rules. 

One piece of this puzzle has fallen into place today, at least, with the the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) launching its new portal for non-commercial works which you can find here.

List all IFLA news