Proposed copyright Directive
The Commission has tabled a draft Directive on
harmonising aspects of rules on copyright and related rights in the
information society. One key feature is a proposal to harmonise
authors' rights to approve or prohibit copying of their works by
"new" techniques, such as electronic and digital distribution.
The draft Directive would give authors, performing
artists, phonogram and film producers and broadcasting
organisations an exclusive right to authorise or prohibit
reproductions of their work. This would include all types of direct
or indirect reproduction, whether temporary or permanent, on-line
or off-line, or in material or written form.
Other key provisions include:
- Communication to the public right
Authors would be provided with a general exclusive right to
authorise or prohibit any communication to the public of originals
or copies of their work by wire or wireless means. Exceptions to
this rule include use for teaching and scientific research.
- Distribution right
The distribution right would give authors the exclusive right to
control any type of distribution to the public by sale or otherwise
of the original of their work or tangible copies of their works eg.
on paper, CD or CD-ROM. This would not apply to services in general
- Legal protection of anti-copying systems
The Proposal would require Member States to provide adequate legal
protection against any activities which would enable or facilitate
the unlawful circumvention of measures designed to protect
copyright or related rights.
The Proposal incorporates the international WIPO (World
Intellectual Property Organisation) obligations approved during the
1996 conference (see our July/August Newsletter)
The European Publishers Council and International
Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) are opposed to the
Proposal. The IFPI believes the Directive could erode the music
industry's protection from copyright infringements and piracy.
In its defence, the Commission explains that the
aim of the Directive is to encourage creativity and investment in
the products and services involved with a view to boosting job
creation and long-term competitiveness. The Proposal is based on
extensive consultation on a 1995 Green Paper and is intended to
update protection in the light of information society developments,
such as on-line services, CD ROMs, the Internet, digitalisation and
other electronic systems.