Book Review: Online Distribution of Content in the EU

Online Distribution of Content in the EU is a collection of chapters examining the current issues raised by online distribution of content in the EU, edited by Taina Pihlajarinne, Juha Vesala and Olli Honkkila, from the University of Helsinki in Finland. Ranging from copyright infringement, copyright enforcement, competition and consumer law, touching on topics such as marketplaces, AI, 3D printing, and geo-blocking. A key theme of the book is the developments found in the Digital Single Market Strategy and Directive, considering whether the changes will lead to positive developments in the EU framework, or whether it will lead to further fragmentation and incoherence.

The book is presented in three main sections. The first section is titled Copyright and Online Distribution – on a Path to Fragmentation? This section considers copyright and other protection of content distributed online, in six chapters. In the first chapter of this section (Chapter 2 of the book)- The DSM Directive: A package (too) full of policies, Martti Kivistö argues that the DSM Directive is not very principled, but pragmatic and technical and therefore likely to contribute to the current fragmentation, much less resolve it.

In the third chapter - Linking and copyright – a problem solvable by functional-technical concepts? Taina Pihlajarinne argues that it is possible to solve linking issues in copyright with functional-technical concepts, but this also needs the CJEU to build more lines of interpretation for example. Valentina Moscon then considers the press publishers’ case, suggesting that the creation of new neighbouring rights does not fit in with the spirit of international intellectual property law and should have instead been dealt with under competition law. In the next chapter - Meet the Unavoidable - The Challenges of Digital Second-Hand Marketplaces to the Doctrine of Exhaustion, Péter Mezei addresses the Usedsoft and Redigi cases to consider digital exhaustion. Following which, Anette Alén-Savikko and Tone Knapstad provide a chapter on Nordic extended collective licensing and online distribution. The final chapter in the first section is titled Liability and access to contact information: striking the balance when service is used to distribute copyrighted digital content by Katja Weckström Lindroos. It looks at on-demand digital services, in particular cases by the Finish Market Court seeking to define a standard of liability for “significant distribution of unauthorised digital content.”

Printing 3D CAT files
Image: Darcie Tanner
The second section is titled Emerging Technologies for Online Distribution – More Fragmentation in The Future? This part provides three chapters. The first topic of this section is AI-generated content: authorship and inventorship in the age of artificial intelligence by Rosa Maria Ballardini, Kan He and Teemu Roos. The authors point out that AI technology will result in the role of the author/inventor becoming less clearly defined. They argue that the traditional justifications for copyright are insufficient in these circumstances, but The Modernist School of thought could provide a suitable compromise. The two other chapters in this section focus on 3D printing. Firstly, Dinusha Mendis presents the UK perspective on copyright in 3D models and 3D design files followed by Taina Pihlajarinne and Max Oker-Blom looking at the trade mark confusion with respect to distribution of CAD files.

The third section is titled Digital Single Market, Competition and Regulation, consisting of five chapters. Katri Havu begins with reflections on the digital single market, digital content and consumer protection; arguing that proposals to harmonise aspects of consumer contract law bring clarity but has its limitations. Giuseppe Mazziotti considers cross border content and whether the EU is really paving the way for a digital single market, arguing that in fact preservation of the integrity of cultural and linguistical diverse markets, especially in the audio-visual sector, prevailed over the logic of making copyright content available within Europe without legal and technical barriers. Building on this topic, Juha Vesala considers Geo-blocking Regulation in more depth, also noting that extending the regulation is not necessarily the best way to attain increased EU-wide trade, competition and availability. Marta Cantero also considers geo-blocking, focusing on safeguarding open internet, raising concerns of the inability of free movement rules to overcome territorial restrictions. Continuing the focus on open internet, the final chapter of this section is titled The Internet Access Provider’s Commercial Practices Under the EU Rules on Open Internet, by Olli Honkkila, looking at the tensions between net neutrality and competition principles.

The concluding remarks, by Taina Pihlajarinne, Juha Vesala and Olli Honkkila, draws together the commentary of the book focusing on three key points. First, they note the arguments that the measures taken thus far towards a digital single market for content, are insufficient to attain the ambitious objectives set out by the EU strategy. Secondly, the regulation of online distribution of content is becoming increasingly fragmented, for example similar situations being treated differently within the law due to technology or product, as well as fragmented practices between different member states. Finally, attempts to address territorial fragmentation bring about increased legal fragmentation; due to the adoption of sui generis rules for example.

This book will appeal to those interested in contemporary copyright issues in the EU, particularly new technologies and the digital single market.

Extent: 288 pp
Hardback Price: £95.00, Publisher Website: £85.50
ISBN: 978 1 78811 989 4
Also available as an ebook: eISBN: 978 1 78811 990 0
GooglePlay: £21.60 $40.00
Book Review: Online Distribution of Content in the EU Book Review: Online Distribution of Content in the EU Reviewed by Hayleigh Bosher on Tuesday, September 03, 2019 Rating: 5

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