Copyright Online

Copyright and related rights provide an incentive for the creation of and investment in new works and other protected matter (music, films, print media, software, performances, broadcasts, etc.) and their exploitation, thereby contributing to improved competitiveness, employment and innovation. The field of copyright is nowadays associated with important cultural, social and technological aspects, all of which formulating the policy in this field.

The EU copyright legislation is a set of ten directives, which harmonise essential rights of authors and of performers, producers and broadcasters. By setting harmonised standards, the EU law reduces national discrepancies, ensures the level of protection required to foster creativity and investment in creativity, promotes cultural diversity and ensures better access for consumers and business to digital content and services across Europe.

Presently, the EU is looking forward to a copyright reform - the Commission’s proposal was announced in 2015 and it highlighted the following areas that the Commission wanted to address “(i) portability of legally acquired content, (ii) ensuring cross-border access to legally purchased online services while respecting the value of rights in the audiovisual sector, (iii) greater legal certainty for the cross-border use of content for specific purposes (e.g. research, education, text and data mining, etc.) through harmonised exceptions,(iv) clarifying the rules on the activities of intermediaries in relation to copyright-protected content and, in 2016, (v) modernising enforcement of intellectual property rights, focusing on commercial-scale infringements”.

Supporting the efforts on national and EU level for a modern copyright legislation in line with the present technological development, LIBRe Foundation specializes in the legal protection of copyright and related rights in the framework of the internal EU market, with particular emphasis on the information society.

Copyright law aims to balance the interests of those who create content, with the public interest in having the widest possible access to that content.

Exhaustive lists of works covered by copyright are usually not to be found in legislation. Nonetheless, works commonly protected by copyright include: literary works such as novels, poems, plays, reference works, newspaper articles; computer programs, databases; films, musical compositions, and choreography; artistic works such as paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculpture; architecture; and advertisements, maps, and technical drawings. Copyright protection extends only to expressions, and not to ideas, procedures, methods of operation or mathematical concepts as such. Copyright may or may not be available for a number of objects such as titles, slogans, or logos, depending on whether they contain sufficient authorship.

With the internet, media content, be it made of images, sound or written words, can be distributed and accessed in a variety of ways and EU policy is evolving to reflect this new situation. The development of online/digital publications concerns all sub-sectors of the publishing industry, like books, newspapers, magazines or even databases. eBooks for instance are taking a growing importance even if some factors such as interoperability, portability and cross-border availability still limit their consumption in Europe.

LIBRe Foundation´s experts study the evolution of copyright and its management in the connected world, the expansion of the role of ICT in content management, including the improvement of availability of creative content online and consumer accessibility, also across borders, and the simplification of licensing processes and its transparency through the use of databases, metadata and standards; thus transforming the known concept of traditional media to digital content management.

Protection of computer programs under copyright laws should be without prejudice to the application, in appropriate cases, of other forms of protection. However, any contractual provisions contrary to the provisions of Directive 2009/24/EC on the legal protection of computer programs laid down in respect of decompilation or to the exceptions provided for by this Directive with regard to the making of a back-up copy or to observation, study or testing of the functioning of a program should be null and void. The development of computer programs requires the investment of considerable human, technical and financial resources while computer programs can be copied at a fraction of the cost needed to develop them independently. All technical possibilities of permanent or temporary reproduction of a computer program by any means and in any form, in part or in whole, in so far as loading, displaying, running, transmission or storage of the computer program necessitate such reproduction; translation, adaptation, arrangement and any other alteration of a computer program and the reproduction of the results thereof; and any form of distribution to the public, including the rental, of the original computer program or of copies thereof – all these create the need of not only proper understanding of the terms of copyright protection but also specific IT knowledge.

Directive 96/9/EC on the legal protection of databases created a new exclusive “sui generis” right for database producers, valid for 15 years, to protect their investment of time, money and effort, irrespective of whether the database is in itself innovative (“non-original” databases). The Directive harmonised also copyright law applicable to the structure and arrangement of the contents of databases (“original” databases). However, with the development of the technologies the databases become more and more complex in terms of unauthorized extraction and/or re-utilization of the contents of a database, complexity of copyrights of collective works and legal difficulties in the cross-border use.

LIBRe Foundation´s experts recognize the importance of legal protection of computer programs and databases for modern businesses. However, this protection needs to be reconciled with the interests of the public at large of access to the benefits generated by these works. We adopt an interdisciplinary and comparative approach in studying the varying solutions in different jurisdictions. Our interests focus on the protection of APIs, free software, licencing regimes and liability for non-compliance.

The media landscape is following a transformation, characterised by a steady increase of convergence of media services, with a visible move towards intertwining traditional broadcast and internet. The proliferation of connected devices and the wide availability of faster broadband connections are affecting existing business models and consumer habits and creating new challenges and opportunities for the creative industries.

This new model allows citizens to interact not only with other individuals but also with all kind of content providers creating a set of challenges leading to the need for common policies for the audiovisual sector and new media sector, creation of a true digital single market of content, and promotion of media freedom and pluralism.

LIBRe Foundation´s experts are dedicated to the pursuit of media freedom and pluralism. We study the implications of the lack of a harmonized EU-level approach towards media pluralism and policy, the changing role of public service broadcasting and the role of emerging platforms with user-generated content (UGC) within the framework of the AVMS directive.

Fair use is a limitation and exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work.

Copyright law gives copyright holders a set of exclusive rights for a limited time period as an incentive to create works that ultimately enrich society by contributing to the growth of science, education and the arts. However, copyright legislation does not give copyright holders complete control of their works - copyrighted works move into „the public domain“ and are available for unlimited use by the public when the copyright term expires. But even before works enter the public domain, the public is free to make „fair uses“ of copyrighted works for a limited and „transformative” purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work, computer based analytical processes such as text mining, web mining and data mining, reverse engineering of computer software, hardware, network protocols, encryption and access control systems, cases of music sampling and file sharing, etc.

LIBRe Foundation believes that sharing economy has the potential to transform society. We have seen the rise of Skype, Uber, Airbnb etc. that have delivered well-known, ´traditional´ services in a completely different way. The potential of the blockchain reveals even more opportunities for a wide range of applications. Our experts study the implications of these new phenomena on the society and traditional economy as a whole.

„Open Culture“ is a concept according to which knowledge should be spread freely and its growth should come from developing, altering or enriching already existing works on the basis of sharing and collaboration, without being restricted by rules linked to the legal protection of intellectual property. In a context of information technology development, it consequences to equal access to information.

The increasing legal complexity of copyright legislation and the differences between national legislation in the past decades are factors which have led to the creation of a movement aiming at promoting creativity and general access to the world intellectual heritage, on the basis of sharing rather than exclusion. The main result has been a new type of license called „copyleft“, in opposition to „copyright“. One possible problem with these licenses is their legal status - since they are not part of the country's legal system, their value is only a moral one or one that will be conferred upon them by a court of law. A second, more general, problem is that although all sectors taking part in open culture have in common the aim of sharing and free access by everyone to the world of knowledge, its expression in daily life varies considerably from one sector to the other, with very little communication between them.

Without doubt, computer technology is the field where open culture is the most widespread. The phrase „open source“ refers to a wide range of software licenses whose source code is made available to the public without any or with few copyright restrictions. Anyone can use, study, or modify the software at will, so long as the same rights are given to subsequent users. However, it could also refer to “open architechiture” (a type of software architecture that allows adding, upgrading and modifying blueprint components), “open design” (application of open source methods to the creation of physical products, machines and systems either to foster projects where funding or commercial interest is lacking, for instance in developing countries, or for the realization of projects too ambitious for the resources of one company or country), “open music” (music available in “source code” form allowing composers the use of already existing works, either to remix them or to create new works, while possibly inviting public participation), etc.