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[FYI] A Review of the Last Ten Years and A Look at What Lies Ahead: Copyright and Related Rights in the European Union


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A Review of the Last Ten Years and A Look at What Lies Ahead: 
Copyright and Related Rights in the European Union  

- A speech by Jörg Reinbothe  

I. Introduction  

Is it a mere coincidence that we are celebrating today and tomorrow 
the 10th anniversary of the Fordham Conference on "International 
Intellectual Property Law and Policy"? In fact, it isn’t. It is no 
coincidence that, as Hugh Hansen put it in his "Conference Director’s 
Note", the preface for the first volume of the Fordham Conference 
proceedings, "in the spring of 1992, Jean-François Verstrynghe, then 
the Head of Division DG III/E-4, suggested that Fordham University 
School of Law institute an annual conference on EC copyright law". 
Ten years ago, copyright harmonisation at European Union level was in 
a crucial, though fairly early stage, and had just reached cruising 
speed with the adoption of the Software Directive in 1991. The clock 
was ticking for accomplishing the European Internal Market by the 
target date of 1 January 1993. Around the same time, the negotiations 
on the TRIPs Agreement were concluded in substance. And finally, also 
ten years ago, efforts were initiated at international level to 
update the Berne and Rome Conventions. In those days, terms such as 
Information Society, cyberspace or digital rights were still unheard 
of, and yet we all felt that it would take our combined efforts to 
adapt copyright protection to the next millennium.  

Now, at this 10th Fordham Conference, we can look back at ten 
successful years of copyright legislation. Seven European Union 
copyright Directives have been adopted, the TRIPs Agreement is being 
implemented worldwide, and the two WIPO "Internet Treaties" WCT and 
WPPT come into force in the first half of this year. We have done a 
good job, I think, and we have done it together: co-ordination 
between the USA and the European Union on these matters has always 
been the key for success.  

But copyright, more than ever, is an evolving scenario. If we were to 
rest on our joint successes, we would miss out on the future and fail 
to structure copyright according to the challenges of new technology 
and new markets. In Brussels, we feel that we have reached a 
crossroad, where copyright policy has to compete with consumer, 
competition or other policies, and where the protection of creativity 
and investments is challenged by open source movements or the 
promotion of alternative business models. Besides a description of 
the ten years behind us, I will, therefore, try to present our 
visions for the future.  


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