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Playing Catch 22 with the Public Domain

Goethe-BouquetPlaying Catch 22 with cultural heritage is quite simple: since cultural heritage institutions hardly ever are in a position to digitize their collection because of a lack of financial resources, they obtain funding on the basis of public/private partnerships.

Chances are that in return for the financial support needed for digitization, the private party will seek to retain exclusivity over the digitized objects and to impose restrictions on their further reproduction and making available to the public. The result: the collection is certainly digitized, but the public’s expectation of being able to freely re-use digitized works remains frustrated for as long as the private party has decided.

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Open access by law – proposal for a new regulation in Poland

Tomasz TargoszThe Polish Ministry of Administration and Digitisation has initiated discussion on the law providing free access to public resources.

The Ministry has made available on its webpage a document entitled “Draft Guidelines for the Proposal of the Act on Open Public Resources” and has invited interested parties to comment. Thus a process of “open access by law” has begun. It has been long thought that public resources of various kinds should be, when possible, made available on the internet for free along the motto: what has been paid for by public money is public property. Usually such initiatives have been voluntary and have thus relied on either good will or political pressure. Now, ho [...]

First hotel rooms, then dental practice, and now spa establishments

“When providing healthcare in healthcare facilities, there is no obligation to pay remuneration for communication to the public of copyright works. But, is a hotel room where occasionally health treatment is performed a healthcare facility?”

On 24 July 2012, Krajský soud v Plzni (Czech Republic) lodged a reference for preliminary ruling with the CJEU in case C-351/12, Ochranný svaz autorský pro práva k dílům hudebním, o.s. (OSA) v Léčebné lázně Mariánské Lázně, a.s., referring three questions dealing with separate issues related to a case taking place between a Czech collecting society and a business providing spa services, including both accommodation and healthcare servic [...]

France: Radioblog condemned to damages for over €1 million

The French Supreme Court (“Cour de Cassation”) has upheld, in a ruling of 25 September 2012, a judgment of the Court of Appeal of Paris condemning Radioblog and its managing directors to the payment of damages amounting to over €1 million, in addition to a suspended prison sentence of nine months and a €10,000 fine.

The case is interesting for two reasons: the gigantic amount of damages and the application, for the first time, of new provisions of the French Intellectual Property Code condemning the provision of software applications intended to be used for infringing copyright.

The facts are the following: the website Radioblog provided a software called ‘RadioBlogClub’ to Internet user [...]

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 [...]

Dr. Strangelaw or: How Portugal Learned to Stop Worrying and Love P2P

On January 5, 2011, representatives of ACAPOR (a Portuguese association representing commercial retailers of cultural and entertainment works), wearing t-shirts with the slogans “piracy is illegal” and “1000 complaints per month”, filed a petition with the Prosecutor General’s Office (“PGO”) giving notice of the practice of 1000 acts of alleged usurpation of authors’ rights via peer-to-peer (“p2p”) networks by unknown individuals. Said petition was supplemented in April 2011, with notice of a further 1.000 acts.

Following an Opinion by the PGO (“PGO Opinion”), the Department of Investigation and Penal Action (“DIAP”) of Lisbon decided not to file any criminal char [...]

Italy: copyright protection only for ‘high level’ industrial design

The “Arco” lamp is protected by copyright. But Italy is still struggling with the moratorium of the copyright protection of industrial design.

With a 56-pages decision of the District Court of Milan published on 12 September 2012 and made available last week, the “Arco” lamp case, started as far back as 2006, has finally come to an end. In the meanwhile, a few amendments to the relevant norms and a judgment of the European Court of Justice (case C‑168/09) intervened. But let’s start this story from the beginning.

In November 2006 FLOS SpA, the Italian company producing the famous Arco floor lamp designed in 1962 by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni, brought proceedings against [...]

Are European orphans about to be freed?
Last week, the European Parliament approved the draft Directive on certain permitted uses of orphan works. The approval of the Council of Ministers is expected to occur shortly.

This is big news indeed, for it’s the first draft directive in the area of copyright law to make it this far in more than 10 years. It’s been commented and reported by many.

The proposed directive is striking in many respects. Most prominent is the virtually unanimous opinion that the directive ‘is a step in the right direction’, but that it ‘will not facilitate nor promote mass digitization and large-scale preservation of Europe’s vast cultural heritage’. This conjures up the image of the elephant giving birth to a [...]

What’s the size of small parts? (Germany)

By Benjamin Schütze, Institute of Legal Informatics, Leibniz Universität Hannover

“Since its introduction in 2003, the provision marks the centre of a controversy between schools and institutions of higher education and copyright holders, especially publishing houses marketing a scientific – educational portfolio.”

About the right to make available small parts of a work for illustration purposes for teaching in schools and higher education and how it is interpreted by OLG Stuttgart in Alfred Kröner Verlag GmbH & Co. KG v Fernuniversität in Hagen (4 U 171/11).

The dispute between the parties centres on the question of whether Fernuniversität Hagen shall be permitted under § 52a Germ [...]

[Updated] As had long been suspected: The proposed Press Publishers Right is meant as a lex Google after all (Germany)

“Some said this would be like an Opera House charging the taxi drivers for taking the audience to the venue.”

It has been more than three years now since the infamous idea of a new neighbouring right for press publishers appeared in the coalition agreement of the second Merkel government out of thin air. On the face of it, the approach seemed somewhat reasonable: To give press publishers a neighbouring right just like the ones enjoyed by other key players of content production, f.e. film and phonogram producers.

First ideas for an implementation circled around a kind of online press levy, to be payed by any commercial or public entity. There were reports about the respective collecting socie [...]

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