Sitting here with a coffee reading the Commission's just released Action Plan on IP for a bit of fun. A few initial observations from a copyright lawyer's perspective:

1.  Good to see that the Commission has recognised the need for stronger guidance to member states about the interpretation and intent of Art 17 of the new Copyright Directive:

“In the area of copyright, the Commission is focusing on supporting the timely and effective transposition and implementation of the two newly adopted directives on the modernisation of the EU's copyright framework. A crucial part of this work concerns the implementation of Article 17 of the Copyright Directive, which sets out a specific legal regime for the use of copyright-protected content by user-uploaded content sharing platforms. The Commission has carried out an extensive stakeholder dialogue to gather the views of relevant stakeholders on the main topics related to this article's application. Taking into account the results of the dialogue, the Commission will soon issue guidance to support Member States in implementing this provision.”

They need to move quick though. Member states, including in particular France and Germany, are well down the track with their implementation and we're already seeing the inevitable (and totally foreseeable) tensions arise from the vagueness and compromise inherent in the drafting of Art 17. Some of the policy battles that characterised the legislation of Art 17 were papered over to get the legislation across the line, but they are being fought out again at the implementation phase, including issues which have material impact on freedom of contract and fundamental user freedoms around privacy and expression. Poland has already challenged the constitutionality of Art 17 itself in the CJEY. Germany is proposing an implementation which includes what looks a lot like a must carry, must pay obligation for UGC for platforms - is that really what the legislature intended? The Commission needs to get its skates on if it wants to deliver a truly harmonised regime that delivers on the policy promises made.

2. The Commission looks like it is returning to the age old debate about the need for a reliable copyright register: 

"The Commission is launching a study on copyright and new technologies, which will focus on copyright data management and artificial intelligence. The result from this study should be available in 2021. The Commission will further work with relevant stakeholders to promote the quality of copyright data and achieve a well-functioning “copyright infrastructure” (e.g. improve authoritative and updated information on right holders, terms and conditions and licensing opportunities)."

Transparency in copyright ownership has been long wished-for by licensees, especially in respect of music. Progress has been made, but the reality is that we are a long way from a properly functional voluntary regime in any market sector, which is ironic given that Art 17 as passed basically assumes - wrongly - that it is an easy thing to do. The only way we are likely to get there in my view is via an official copyright register. Would violate Berne of course if it were made a formality to enforcement, but as we see in the US there are ways to navigate that if you really want to.

3. Finally, consistent with its approach to publishers in respect of Art 15 of the Copyright Directive, the Commission says that:

"[it] will continue to be actively involved in WIPO negotiations with the objective of reaching an agreement on a new treaty ensuring international protection to broadcasting organisations."

Can we hope that they fix the ownership question in (2) above before they go about further complicating the rights matrix that already exists?