In its recent decision (22 January 2015) in the Allposters case (C-419/13), the ECJ confirmed that exhaustion of the distribution rights does not apply to works that have been modified. The copyright owner can therefore still oppose the distribution of the modified work, even if he had agreed to the distribution of the original work.
The degree of modification needed -or sufficient- to claim that exhaustion of rights does not apply is still uncertain: the ECJ confirmed that if the modification amounts to a new reproduction, the exhaustion of rights will not apply (even if the “original” copy is destroyed in the process of making the new copy). This is the case if the physical medium on w [...]
The book “The Variable Scope of the Exclusive Economic Rights in Copyright” recently published in Kluwer’s Information Law Series is the result of my doctoral research (which led to a doctoral dissertation defended at Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 2011). This article provides an overview of the research described in the book, followed by a more detailed description of some of the key subjects covered.
Overview of the Book
Originally, the starting point of the research was the observation that in a digital always “ON” world some acts are protected under copyright, while the same acts are not in the analogue world. Take searching for information as an example: in the analogue w [...]
“What the Court did not consider though, is that the outcome of the application of the 3-step test to the digitisation of each individual work for the purposes of making it available for research and private study purposes may conflict with the absolute prohibition of digitising the entire collection.”
Judgment CJEU of 11 September 2014, Technische Universität Darmstadt v Eugen Ulmer KG (C-117/13). Request for a preliminary ruling from German Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Court of Justice).
The CJEU confirms the ancillary right of public libraries to digitise books from their collection in order to make them available by dedicated terminals without the rightholder’s consent. However, in the [...]
“Before finalising its decision however, it is seeking the CJEU’s input on whether end users, who view web-pages on their computers without downloading or printing them, are committing infringements of copyright if they lack a licence from the rightholder.”
On 29 June 2013 the UK Supreme Court referred a series of questions in Case C-360/13 Public Relations Consultants Association Limited v The Newspaper Licensing Agency Limited and others, otherwise known as the Meltwater case, to the Court of Justice of the EU. The case examines whether Meltwater News, an electronic media monitoring service, was implicating its subscribers in copyright infringement by distributing reports that include [...]
The European Copyright Society, a group of prominent European scholars, today issued an opinion on the Svensson case (Case C-466/12), which is currently before the European Court of Justice. The case, which was referred to the Court by the Swedish Court of Appeal (Svea hovrätt) on 18 October 2012, raises the important question whether setting a hyperlink to a copyright protected work amounts to ‘communication to the public’ within the meaning of Article 3(1) of the Information Society Directive.
In a detailed, 17-page opinion the European Copyright Society argues that the answer to this question should be a resounding no. According to the Society, “The importance of this particular re [...]
Playing 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.
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 [...]
Literary works, photos, films and music and other items that constitute our common cultural heritage are stored in the collections of cultural institutions, such as publicly accessible libraries, museums and archives. Many of these items are still protected by copyright, but their right holders cannot be identified or located – i.e. the works are so-called “orphan works”. This leads to a situation where cultural institutions that strive to digitize and make the parts of their collections still “in copyright” available via the internet risk being sued for infringement if the rightholders should reappear. This may cause many cultural institutions to refrain from digitizing and making ava [...]
On April 24, 2012 the Advocate General Yves Bot delivered his opinion in the UsedSoft case (C-128/11) concerning exhaustion in digital products that have not been distributed on a material carrier.
I think this may be one of the more interesting and bold opinions in the area of copyright law, although I am aware the competition is stiff. Should the Court accept the AG’s views this may even be a small forerunner of important changes in how copyright law adapts itself to the internet era.
The questions asked by the Bundesgerichtshof were :
1. Is the person who can rely on exhaustion of the right to distribute a copy of a computer program a ‘lawful acquirer’ within the meaning of Article 5(1) [...]
Without much noise, France recently adopted Act Nr. 2012-287 of 1st March 2012 relating to the digital exploitation of unavailable books of the 20th century. Contrary to past initiatives from the French lawmaker, the Act does not relate to orphan works, but rather to out-of-commerce works. Or, more precisely: books.
According to the explanatory memorandum to the Proposal, France is the first country in the world to put in place a modern and efficient mechanism to regulate the use of unavailable works, which forms today’s biggest obstacle to the digitization of cultural heritage. The French solution is presented as offering a response to the rejected Google settlement in the United States.