EU copyright reform: Revisiting the principle of territoriality

28-09-2015

Copyright protection is territorial since rights are normally acquired and enforced on a country-by-country basis, and exceptions and limitations to copyright protection vary from one Member State to another. However, the new digital environment increasingly characterised by the use of the internet to deliver content across borders has an impact on both users and the creative industries, and represents a challenge to the implementation of coherent copyright legislation throughout the EU. The European Commission has announced it will put forward plans for reform before the end of 2015. Parliament adopted a resolution in July 2015 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights to steer the debate on the forthcoming reform. A key issue for policy-makers to address is how to mitigate the hindrance to the internal market caused by territorial protection of copyright. Several approaches have been discussed in this respect. One approach is to foster cross-border online access and the portability of content across borders and to prohibit some specific territorial restrictions (for instance, the unjustified practice of geo-blocking). Clarifying copyright rules applicable to online transmissions on the model of the Satellite and Cable Directive has also been proposed. Further harmonising throughout the EU the exceptions and limitations which allow the limited use of copyrighted works for certain purposes without the authorisation of the author or of other rights-holders has also been discussed. Finally, the introduction of a unified legal framework for EU copyright law has been proposed, and requires a comprehensive, evidence-based assessment of the cost and benefits involved.

Copyright protection is territorial since rights are normally acquired and enforced on a country-by-country basis, and exceptions and limitations to copyright protection vary from one Member State to another. However, the new digital environment increasingly characterised by the use of the internet to deliver content across borders has an impact on both users and the creative industries, and represents a challenge to the implementation of coherent copyright legislation throughout the EU. The European Commission has announced it will put forward plans for reform before the end of 2015. Parliament adopted a resolution in July 2015 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights to steer the debate on the forthcoming reform. A key issue for policy-makers to address is how to mitigate the hindrance to the internal market caused by territorial protection of copyright. Several approaches have been discussed in this respect. One approach is to foster cross-border online access and the portability of content across borders and to prohibit some specific territorial restrictions (for instance, the unjustified practice of geo-blocking). Clarifying copyright rules applicable to online transmissions on the model of the Satellite and Cable Directive has also been proposed. Further harmonising throughout the EU the exceptions and limitations which allow the limited use of copyrighted works for certain purposes without the authorisation of the author or of other rights-holders has also been discussed. Finally, the introduction of a unified legal framework for EU copyright law has been proposed, and requires a comprehensive, evidence-based assessment of the cost and benefits involved.