Implementation of DSM directive in Europe | Survey by CEATL

February 5, 2021, 11:56 am

The Digital Single Market (DSM) directive, voted in April 2019 by the European Parliament, is to be transposed into the national laws of Member States by June 2021. Recognizing the weak position of authors in the contractual relationship, the European Union set minimal standards so that authors get fairer conditions as to their remuneration and the exploitation of their works. What is the status of the implementation of the DSM directive in the various countries? 

European Council of Literary Translators’ Associations (CEATL) recently conducted a flash survey among its members focusing on how small authors’ associations are trying to secure a proper implementation of the directive meant to improve their working and living conditions. What level of access do they really have and what are the main challenges they face?

Coordinated by CEATL’s Authors’ Working Group, this highly instructive survey looks into the progress of implementation of DSM in various European countries. The survey gives special attention to the implementation of articles 18-22 of the directive, as they contain provisions that are essential to rebalance the relationships in favor of authors. On top of the obligations regarding remuneration, transparency, contracts, and disputes, the Directive gives a central place to collective action to ensure that authors get fair conditions and puts forward collective bargaining as one of the tools that States are free to implement to ensure fair remuneration. 

The survey puts forward concrete studies following the legal transposition process in 28 countries represented by CEATL, including those still in the transition process to the EU, e.g. Serbia, which has shown its commitment to comply with European copyright legislation. Apart from a few countries where little or nothing seems to have happened in 2020 regarding the transposition (Spain, Ireland, Slovenia…), in the large majority of countries, the process is ongoing and the expectation seems to be that the legal transposition in the national Copyright laws will be effective on schedule, in spite of delays and disruptions caused by the Covid crisis. By the time of publishing, the Netherlands became the first country to implement the directive in full, after a vote of the House of Representatives and then the Senate in December 2020, according to the survey. On the other hand, Brexit has led the UK to drop the process entirely. 

The findings of CEATL’s, issued on 25 January 2021, have also revealed shortcomings that have yet to be addressed, as Articles 15 and 17 are perfectly suited to serve the creators’ property rights, articles 18 and 22 still need to be revised and incorporated.