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Copyright in the new Belgian Code of Economic Law: codification and new regulation

The Belgian legal order has recently welcomed a new legal code:  the Code of Economic Law (CEL).  Laws are not systematically arranged in codes in Belgium: there are some codes (such as the judicial code, the criminal code, codes of various types of taxes etc.) as well as countless separate laws, acts and regulations for its many levels of governance.  Now we have a Code of Economic Law (here in Dutch and in French), which is meant to gather in one volume various regulations pertaining to the field of “economic law”, such as competition law, consumer protection, product and service safety, e-commerce, banking and finance, specific enforcement proceedings, etc.

The Code of Economic La [...]

Red light for Sabam’s pricing system for Internet access providers: up- and downstream IAP traffic do not constitute communication or making a work available to the public

Rosario-Debilio2On the 13th March 2015, the President of the Brussels French speaking Court of First Instance pronounced a judgment to the detriment of Sabam, an important collective management organisation in Belgium. In 2011 Sabam decided to claim a fee from Internet access providers in exchange for a licence which allows these providers to communicate copyright protected works to the public (see here). I shall first discuss the control on the pricing system set up by Sabam. I shall then study how electronic communication law’s notions were used to define the scope of this pricing system. A final discussion will be dedicated to the rest of the procedure in this case setting the Belgian State against Sab [...]

The concept of parody and the legitimate interests of parodists and copyright holders

Philippe-LaurentJudgment CJEU, 3 September 2014, Deckmyn and Vrijheidsfonds (C-201/13). Request for a preliminary ruling from the Hof van Beroep te Brussel (Belgium).

Belgian copyright law provides that “once a work has been lawfully published, its author may not prohibit caricature, parody and pastiche, observing fair practices”. This provision, which existed before the adoption of the InfoSoc Directive 2001/29/CE, and which has not been modified by the implementation of the latter, was clearly subject to interpretation (especially the last three words : “observing fair practices”).

Belgian Courts and Tribunals have therefore progressively established many conditions to be met in order to successfu [...]

Embedding is no criminal offence, the Brussels Court of Appeal says

“No need to wait for the ECJ, the Court replied.”

In Belgium, besides being a tort from a civil law perspective, a copyright infringement can also be a criminal offence, on the condition that it is done “with malicious or fraudulent intent”. When copyright infringements are committed by unknown perpetrators (which is quite common on the internet), it is usual to file a complaint with an examining magistrate who is endowed with specific criminal investigation powers.

This is what the producer of “Fait d’hiver” (an Academy award nominee short film) did after noticing that the movie had been entirely uploaded on YouTube and embedded in the pages of two websites, namely and [...]

The Link Wars Rage on: France and Germany Consider Exclusive Right over Snippets

“According to the current formulation of the draft law, material quoted by humans for commentary and analysis, as opposed to that automatically selected by a computer, may be copied freely.”

The link wars have once again broken out in Europe. In August, the German cabinet gave its backing to a draft law allowing news publishers to collect compensation for the republication of headlines and the introductory sentences of articles by aggregators and search engines. Under the proposal, which would protect content for one year, news publishers would be able to license out snippeting rights for a royalty and start proceedings against those found to infringe their newfound neighbouring right. T [...]

Belgian Supreme Court: against the tide of the CJEU’s case law on “originality”?

On 26 January 2012, the Belgian Supreme Court decided to quash an appeal decision deeming that “when requiring that a work must show the stamp of the author’s personality in order to benefit from copyright protection, the judges of appeal do not validate their decision in law”. According to the Supreme Court, a literary or artistic work is protected by copyright on condition that it is original in the sense that it is the author’s own intellectual creation, and it is therefore not required that the work carry the stamp of the author’s personality. One should stress that such decision is all the more surprising that the “stamp of the author’s personality” can be considered as ha [...]

“In order to fight copyright infringements, ISPs may be asked to render specific websites inaccessible to their subscribers”

This sentence summarizes quite well the decision of the Antwerp Court of Appeal of 26 September 2011 which it is abstracted from.

The Belgian Anti-piracy Federation filed a cease and desist action against Telenet and Belgacom, two Belgian ISPs, in order to make them block The Pirate Bay’s websites in their respective networks.

In first instance, the President of the Commercial Court of Antwerp rejected the claims as he deemed that the requested measures were disproportionate.

The Court of Appeal overruled the decision and granted an injunction on basis of art. 87, §1, al.2 of the Belgian Copyright Act, which transposes art. 8, §3 of the InfoSoc Directive 2001/29/CE, and which provides th [...]

Breach of copyright licence: Precisions of the Belgian Supreme Court on cease and desist actions

In this post, I would like to come back to an interesting decision of the Belgian Cour de Cassation of 7 October 2010, which confirmed that a cease and desist action could be successfully sought against a copyright licensee. As usual, the Supreme Court’s decision is quite concise and does not extensively detail the facts. In short, the decision’s background is a litigation between a television company and a collecting society, where the former refused to pay some royalties to the latter. The collecting society therefore sought a cease and desist injunction against the TV company.

Some relevant paragraphs of the decision can be translated and summarized as follows:

- A cease and desist ac [...]

Belgium: the problem child of the lending right?

On 19 November 1992, the European Council adopted the Directive 92/100/EEC on rental right and lending right and on certain rights related to copyright in the field of intellectual property (now replaced by Directive 2006/115/EC), which provides an exclusive right to authorize or prohibit the rental and lending of originals and copies of copyrighted works. The Directive also provides that Member States may derogate from the exclusive right in respect of public lending, provided that at least authors obtain a remuneration for such lending, and that Member States shall be free to determine this remuneration taking account of their cultural promotion objectives. The Directive had to be transpos [...]

SABAM v. B.K., Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation), 30 March 2011

BELGIUM – In a case of SABAM (the Belgian Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers) versus a counterfeits dealer, the Belgian Supreme Courts finds that in litigations against copyright infringers, collecting societies can prove the existence of management contracts pertaining to some works by solely producing the official repertoire listing that they mandatorily have to keep updated.

For the full text of this case click here

A summary of this case will be posted on soon

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