European Organizations Express Concern About Copyright Reform

Posted on 12/24/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

In July, the European Commission adopted a Green Paper on Copyright in the Knowledge Economy, which launched a consultative process aiming to ensure that EU countries’ copyright laws offered sufficient protection while encouraging authors and publishers to create and disseminate works electronically. Two image-industry organizations, the Coordination of European Picture Agencies and the British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies, have highlighted potential problems with the proposed approach.

Similar to the issues that brought about the recently proposed—and still stalled—U.S. orphan-works legislation, the EU initiative advocates copyright reform to allow efficient distribution of research, science and education materials via the Internet. For example, the Green Paper highlights challenges faced by scientific and scholarly publishers, search engines and libraries who seek to reproduce copyrighted materials in non-commercial manner.

CEPIC, which responded to the EU in late November, views the Green Paper’s approach as imbalanced. “We think that the views from artists and copyrights holders are largely absent,” said the organization in a statement. CEPIC opposes the proposed copyright exceptions for libraries, orphan works and Web-generated content, stating that “exceptions to copyright should remain exceptional.”

The umbrella group agreed with Green Paper’s assertion that copyright owners receive little revenue from the Internet. However, where the EU sees the need to eliminate copyright protection because it is not earning sufficient revenue, CEPIC sees the need to strengthen such protection: “Today, more than ever, copyright owners are the weak part of the revenue stream … legislation in this area is not sufficient.”

CEPIC plans to further discuss these issues during its 2009 congress in Dresden, but some European countries have already launched initiatives geared at copyright reform. Last week, U.K. Minister of State for Higher Education and Intellectual Property David Lammy announced that the U.K. intends to be proactive in responding to the EU call for copyright reform.

Lammy launched “Copyright for the Future,” an initiative that aims to develop a copyright agenda for the 21st Century. BAPLA chairman Paul Brown attended the launch, and the organization said it will work to ensure that the views and needs of the stock industry are factored into any new legislation, particularly on the issue of orphan works. BAPLA plans to submit a formal response to the U.K. Intellectual Property Office in February.

No definitive proposals have been announced. However, it is clear that copyright issues associated with online and digital distribution of intellectual property have taken center stage in leading global economies. Experts predict that 2009 will see the passage of several laws that may have significant effect on how courts view infringement and determine associated costs and damages.

Copyright © 2008 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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