Copyright 2.0: why existing rules need an update to make them fit for the digital age 

Check out our infographic to find out how copyright affects your life 

Copyright rules haven't caught up with today's technological world. For example, consumers are sometimes denied access to online content because of the country they live in. German Greens/EFA member Julia Reda wrote an own initiative report on copyright to feed into upcoming proposals by the European Commission to update current legislation. MEPs debate the report on Thursday 9 July and vote on it afterwards. Check out our infographic and follow the debate.

Reda analysed in the report the implementation of the information society directive from 2001 and made recommendations on how to adapt  it to make it suitable for the digital age. "When the [current] directive was composed, there were neither smartphones, nor YouTube nor Facebook," said Reda. She also pointed out that the exchange of copyright protected content across countries had increased significantly since the directive entered into force.

The report's main points

Geo-blocking is when companies stop consumers in another country from using their on-line services, often without justification. The report stressed that copyright protected content should be accessible across borders. For example, geo-blocking should not prevent Europe's cultural minorities from accessing content or services in their own language. However, the text also underlined the importance of territorial licences, particularly for financing audio-visual and film production.

Freedom of panorama means people have the right to create and share images and photographs of public buildings without having to compensate for the use of copyright. It exists in some EU countries, but not all. The report adopted by the committee says that pictures of public buildings need the authorisation of the rightholder for commercial use. However, following a heated debate in the media, this could still change in the final vote.

The report also calls for a number of exception and limitations, for example for research and education purposes. This should especially apply to online and cross-border activities, such as school exchange programmes. The Commission should assess whether to include exceptions allowing libraries to lend e-books.

Next steps

Once adopted, the report can be used by the European Commission to draft its proposal, which is expected by the end of 2015.