No. 49: An Analysis of Articles 15 and 17 of the EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market: A Boost for the Creative Industries or the Death of the Internet?


  • Diana Passinke
Publish Date:
August 10, 2020
Publication Title:
European Union (EU) Law Working Papers
Stanford Law School
Working Paper
  • Diana Passinke, An Analysis of Articles 15 and 17 of the EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market: A Boost for the Creative Industries or the Death of the Internet?, EU Law Working Papers No. 49, Stanford-Vienna Transatlantic Technology Law Forum (2020).
Related Organization(s):


The digital revolution has had a strong impact on copyright-intensive industries. The ease of removing rightholders’ information from their works and distributing content in the online environment contributes to the difficulties faced by rightholders seeking to effectively license their rights and obtain remuneration for the online distribution of their works. This has allegedly become a threat to the future production of creative content.

While some studies demonstrate that within the copyright industries the sky is rising rather than falling, the emergence of a growing value gap is indisputable. With online platforms gaining more revenue as a result of digitalisation en masse, the European Commission decided that the right step forward is to improve the position of rightholders by placing additional burdens on those that allowed them to thrive. The European Commission introduced the Digital Single Market Copyright Directive with a hope of ensuring that consumers and creators can make the most of the digital world. However, the introduction of Articles 15 and 17 might achieve something quite the opposite.

As demonstrated by the French attempt of implementing Article 15 into its national legislation, the press publishers’ right is unlikely to be effective. Instead, it might have inadvertent consequences for smaller press publishers and consumers by limiting their market exposure and the available choices on the market. It is also likely to have an overall negative effect on press pluralism and innovation.

While Article 17 has been significantly improved since the initial proposal, the difficulties faced by press publishers in concluding a satisfactory license with Google in France, demonstrate that a new licensing obligation will not always culminate in increased revenues for the content creator. The lack of clear resultant benefits that this provision seeks to achieve might not be worth the chaotic disruption it could leave in its wake.

Instead of disrupting the market to resemble the structures of the past, the European Union needs to embrace the new digitalised world. It should seek progressive solutions that would align with the actual objective of the Digital Single Market Copyright Directive: the enhancement of the ability for consumers and creators to make the most of this digital world. Perhaps then, it would be more likely to deliver the promised boost to the creative industries.