Book Council wants repeal of Copyright Act, resignation of ministerial appointees

National Book Council denounces Maltese transposition of European copyright laws, calls for copyright board to be appointed by stakeholders not government

The National Book Council has complained that a legal notice transposing the EU’s copyright directive was not in the spirit of the European framework of rules, and called for its repeal and the resgnation of the Copyright Board.

The NBC’s executive chairperson Mark Camilleri said that the government had not adopted its proposed Bill, which had been approved by the National Congress of Authors.

The current law adopts many of the proposal’s reforms, such as extended collective licensing, out-of-commerce works and the right of revocation for joint authors. But Camilleri said the NBC could not support “a shortsighted, incomplete reform which does not truly provide for a workable copyright framework for the benefit of all stakeholders within the creative landscape.”

The NBC wanted an overhaul of the Copyright Board to be appointed by rights-holders and consumer organisations, rather than the government of the day, and to become an independent and specialised decision-making forum for the resolution of copyright-related issues and disputes.

“The NBC expresses its doubts as to whether the retention of the Copyright Board’s current composition – whereby all members are political ministerial appointees – would suffice in order to satisfy the requirement for impartial out-of-court redress for users of online content sharing platforms – as required under Article 17(9) of the Directive,” Camilleri ssaid.

Camilleri also said the legislative changes bypass parliamentary scrutiny by being implemented by means of a legal notice, rather than a change to the Copyright Act itself. “It convolutes the national copyright framework and creates an unnecessary and baseless distinction between different classes of rights-holders and between different exceptions to copyright.”

Camilleri also said an artificial distinction has been created between the new exceptions to copyright – for text and data mining, cross-border teaching, archival preservation and out of commerce works – and the existing exceptions found within the Copyright Act.

He said the legal notice gives the impression that one may derogate from existing exceptions to copyright already existing under the Act, and also failed to include a mechanism whereby extended collective licences are notified to the European Commission, as required under the Directive.

“The National Book Council hopes that Government takes this matter seriously and engages in direct negotiations with the NBC, so as to avert any legal issues and legal recourse through the relevant EU authorities,” Camilleri said.