Latest news on copyright law

At European level, the Union has changed its legal framework on copyright through Directive (EU) 2019/790.Consequently, Romania transposes this directive into national law through the New Law 69/2022 and thus amends Law 8/1996 on copyright and related rights.

Among other changes, directly affected by the obligations provided by law are the platforms on which online content is posted, called “providers of online content sharing services.”

From the provisions of the law, we deduce that the sites of user-generated content are mainly targeted, including giants such as YouTube and Facebook (as well as other lesser-known platforms) and exempt from these provisions are non-profit educational or scientific archives, service providers such as non-profit online encyclopedias, open source software development and sharing platforms, electronic communications service providers, online markets, cloud services businesses and cloud services that allow users to upload content for their own use.

In the case of platforms at the beginning of the road, respectively those that are on the market for less than three years with an annual turnover of less than ten million euros and in which the average number of unique visitors per month does not exceed five million, the law provides for certain concessions so that they are not affected to the same extent as large platforms.

Under the new regulations, the provider of online content-sharing services must obtain authorization from authors, performers, producers of phonograms and videograms, as well as from broadcasters and/or publishers of press releases, when it wishes to make copyrighted works available to the public. If they do not obtain such authorizations, they may be held liable for unauthorized acts of public communication, including the making available to the public of copyrighted works or other protected objects.

These platforms are exempt from liability if they demonstrate that they have met the following cumulative conditions:

  1. They took steps to obtain a authorization;
  2. In accordance with the highest standards of professional diligence, they have made every effort to ensure the unavailability of specific works and other protected objects in respect of which rightholders have provided relevant and necessary information to service providers;
  3. They have shown promptness and efficiency in receiving a sufficiently reasoned notification from rightholders to block access to or remove protected works or other protected objects from their sites, and have made every effort to prevent their future loading in accordance with point 2.

As for the users of these sites, they can freely post copyrighted content on online platforms in cases where we are talking about: quotes, reviews, use for caricature or parody.

Another provision of Law 69/2022 refers to cases in which companies or other professional users take texts with copy-paste from the press or from other copyright holders and post them as such on their own platforms. Under the new rules, print publishers will be legally recognized for the first time as rights holders in the online environment, and will be in a better position when dealing with online services that use or provide access to their content.

Publishers will now be able to authorize or ban the online use of their press releases by platforms. They will be free to set the conditions under which the use of their content will be authorized, respectively they can grant this authorization free of charge or in exchange for a remuneration.

As far as individual users are concerned, they may use press releases for private or non-commercial purposes. Also, the right of the publisher of a press publication to authorize / prohibit the online use of its own press releases does not concern the introduction of links to web pages (use of the hyperlink) nor the use of individual words or very short excerpts (maximum 120 characters, which can be taken without consent) from a press release, to the extent that it does not affect the effectiveness of copyright or leads to the replacement of the press publication or the determination of the public not to access the press publication.

Therefore, through its provisions, the law emphasizes the importance of developing the licensing market between rights holders and providers of online content sharing services.

In this regard, these license agreements should be fair and maintain a reasonable balance between its parties.