The Great Copyright Debate continues

Another week, another set of copyright principles ... Less than a week ago, the IPKat drew the attention of his readers to the European Copyright Code (noted on the 1709 Blog here). Today it's the turn of Copyright for Creativity – A Declaration for Europe (here). The signatories, organisations that contain many consumers and processors of other people's creativity but not much in the way of traditional rights owners and creators, state that
"The development of new technologies underpinning the knowledge economy calls for a review of the copyright aquis. Together, we need to create greater incentives to maximise creativity, innovation, education and access to culture, and secure Europe’s competitiveness [A good rallying cry: the aspirations are lofty and difficult to take exception to].
Exclusive rights stimulate investment and the production of cultural and knowledge based goods. Simultaneously, exceptions to those rights create a balanced system that allow for the use of creative works to support innovation, creation, competition and the public interest. Well-crafted exceptions can serve both goals: preserving rewards and incentives for creators while also encouraging innovative re-uses that benefit the public [So far, so good ...].
While exclusive rights have been adapted and harmonised to meet the challenges of the knowledge economy, copyright’s exceptions are radically out of line with the needs of the modern information society [Copyright wasn't introduced to further "needs of society" in Europe, was it?]. The lack of harmonisation of exceptions hinders the circulation of knowledge based goods and services across Europe [This is right, but this looks like an economic policy issue rather than one of users' or society's needs]. The lack of flexibility within the current European exceptions regime also prevents us from adapting to a constantly changing technological environment" [Yes: while individual can adapt to the constantly changing environment by ignoring the law and indulging themselves with the latest technologies, this option is not open to libraries, archives and other institutional sitting targets].
What then are the principles upon which Copyright for Creativity wishes to proceed?
"Europe requires a balanced, flexible and harmonised system of exceptions that is in step with the 21st Century knowledge economy. The European Commission took a first step with the publication of the Green Paper, “Copyright in the Knowledge Economy.” The signatories of this declaration call upon the European Commission, the European Parliament and Member States to take this Declaration into account and engage in policy and norm-setting on copyright exceptions to:
Harmonise Exceptions Across Europe. Copyright regulates the flow of consumer as well as knowledge goods in the single market. For European citizens and industry alike, the harmonisation of exceptions is a necessary step in order to facilitate cross-border trade, and create equality and clarity before the law [Yes. Even if, as is usual elsewhere in IP, the application of the exceptions varies between jurisdictions, they should still be the same exceptions: this creates greater predictability in the outcome of legal disputes and thereby encourages investment].
Act as a Spur to Innovation: New technologies make it possible to expand users' access to vast quantities of relevant knowledge and content. Copyright exceptions must support the development and usage of these innovative services, improving European users' access to content [Not sure precisely what is intended here. Incidentally, the current chaotic position doesn't seem to have put too much of a dampener on innovation or on access to content, if you compare where we are now with ten or twenty years back].
Support User Creativity and Wider Participation: The Internet has facilitated an unprecedented shift for citizens, from being passive consumers of "broadcast" culture to active creators and participants. Individual users are increasingly involved in content and knowledge creation. The European copyright framework needs to reflect this new interactivity which encourages creativity, cultural diversity and self-expression [Aha, the Blogger's Right!].
Ensure Accessibility by all Europeans: Exceptions must balance the protection of the creators’ rights with the public interest and must fully support improving access to knowledge and content for people with disabilities – most notably through the use of new technologies [Given the global effect of the internet and the new technologies, the task of copyright reform is ideally tackled globally too -- but Europe looks like a good place to start, given its track record for (i) harmonisation and (ii) experimentation /tinkering with legal norms].
Support for Education and Research: Information and communication technologies offer new collaborative ways to develop and share educational and research materials. Copyright exceptions that facilitate new technology-based research and education will propel science and learning, and therefore the knowledge economy, exponentially forward [Noted].
Facilitate Preservation and Archiving: Digitisation of content is offering new opportunities not only to preserve but also extend the accessibility of Europe’s knowledge and cultural heritage with wide-reaching and long-term benefits for society as a whole. The copyright framework must support this [In some places and in some respects it already does so. It's not that the principles are contentious, but rather a matter of finding the time to achieve this properly].
Ensure Monopoly Rights are Regulated in the Online Environment: Limitations and exceptions act to counter-balance the lack of competition that is created by the granting of monopoly rights in copyright law [A debatable proposition, thinks the Kat]. In order to protect creativity and innovation we must ensure that these monopoly rights are also regulated in the online environment ['creativity and innovation' in this context are presumably those of the consumer, not the author or creator of the copyright work whose rights are to be 'regulated'].
Promote these Principles in International Discussions. The principles and objectives we endorse should not apply only to Europeans – they should be at the centre of the EU’s contributions in any discussions in multilateral and bilateral fora it participates in".
The IPKat is pleased that, both in the case of the European Copyright Code and now with Copyright for Creativity, fuel is being provided for what promises to be the best-informed debate on copyright reform we've had for a long time. Merpel says, forget the ideals: the outcome will always be a compromise between the opposing interests of authors, businesses, carriers and consumers -- whichever set of rules causes the least annoyance to the largest number is the winner.
The Great Copyright Debate continues The Great Copyright Debate continues Reviewed by Jeremy on Thursday, May 06, 2010 Rating: 5


  1. I'm sure I would find the rallying cry more compelling if I knew what a copyright aquis is. ??

  2. As I understand it, the copyright acquis is Euro-jargon for a package of copyright measures, as outlined in various European Commission proposal documents, legislation etc. I think the point is that the academics' proposals are not identical to the Commission's.

  3. Thank you. The typo (the declarants') threw me off the scent.

  4. The cat says: "[Copyright wasn't introduced to further "needs of society" in Europe, was it?]".
    I say: "I'm afraid you are right, but - really - legislation _should_ be introduced to further 'needs of society'", because that's exactly what our representatives are elected for.


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