Making sense of copyright across European borders

The European Commission has stated as one of its objectives that it wishes to foster cross-border online access and portability across borders of content. Key to this aim is increased harmonisation of copyright across borders.

This issue is clearly on the Commission’s agenda: towards the end of October 2013, it published its work programme for the coming year. As one of its initiatives, it states that it will carry out a review of the copyright aquis, to ‘review the provisions of the EU copyright framework that are relevant for the online availability of material protected by copyright and related rights, with a view to ensuring that this framework is fit for purpose in the digital age. This means, inter alia, a modern framework that fosters innovative market practices, guarantees effective recognition and remuneration of rightholders, provides sustainable incentive for creativity, cultural diversity and innovation, increases the choice of and opens up access to legal offers by end users, allows new business models to emerge and more effectively contributes to combating illegal offers and piracy’.

A potential obstacle for businesses providing content across borders is the degree of variance between the copyright laws of the 28 different member states of the EU. Businesses cannot always easily assess what will amount to infringement (if not licensed) in each of the various member states in which they operate. This can have the result that one business model does not necessarily fit all. In some cases, an online business model might work in one country but not in another…

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