Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft
Intellectual & Industrial Property Intellectual Property
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Amended proposal for Directive on copyright and related rights in the information society
Internet Private copying
An amended proposal for a Directive on copyright and of related rights in the Information Society was presented by the European Commission on 21 May 1999. The proposed Directive would establish a level playing field for copyright protection in the new environment, and in particular cover the reproduction right, the communication to the public right, the distribution right, and legal protection of anti-copying and rights management systems. Throughout the legislative process, the Commission has paid particular attention to safeguarding a fair balance between all the rights and interests involved. The amended proposal includes a majority but not all of the changes sought by the European Parliament in its February 1999 Opinion on the Commission's original proposal, in accordance with the undertakings given by the Commission to the Parliament at the time. The amended proposal would continue to require Member States to provide network operators with an exception from the reproduction right for certain technical acts of reproduction (such as certain 'cache' copies arising during transmission over the Internet).
The proposed Directive would adjust and complement the existing EU framework on copyright and related rights to respond to the new challenges of technology and the information society, to the benefit of both right holders and users. In particular, it would stimulate creativity and innovation by ensuring that music, films and all materials protected by copyright enjoyed adequate protection throughout the Single Market. It would facilitate cross-border trade in copyright-protected goods and services, with particular emphasis on new Information Society products and services (both on-line and on physical carriers such as CDs). In addition, the proposal would contribute to ensuring the harmonious development of the Information Society at the world level by meeting the main requirements of the new international treaties on protection of authors, performers and phonogram producers agreed in December 1996 in the framework of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), thereby allowing the ratification of these treaties by both the European Community as such and the individual Member States, as well as by all countries associated with the EU (including European Economic Area members and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe).
The amended proposal incorporates fully or partially 44 of the 56 amendments sought by the Parliament in its 10 February 1999 Opinion. However, as it made clear at the time the Parliament adopted its Opinion, the Commission has been unable to incorporate the Parliament's suggestion that certain technical acts of reproduction (such as 'cache' copies) should only benefit from an exception to the reproduction right subject to prior authorisation by rightholders to putting their protected material on the networks. This is because such a requirement would have seriously hindered the effective operation of the Internet and upset the balance of interests in the original proposal. However, the Commission has introduced a number of changes sought by the Parliament to ensure a more precise definition of the technical, transient copies concerned by the exemption from the reproduction right.
In the case of private copying, photocopying and illustrations for teaching and scientific research, the amended proposal specifies, in accordance with the Parliament's wishes, that Member States would be obliged to ensure fair compensation for right holders. The precise form of such compensation (which may, but does not have to take the form of levies on copy shops, sales of blank tapes and equipment, as exist in most Member States) would be up to the Member States to decide in accordance with their legal traditions and practices. In the specific case of digital recording media (which allow unlimited numbers of perfect copies to be made rapidly), Member States may allow rightholders, if they do desired, to control private copying by way of operational, reliable and effective technical means to protect their interests, where these technical means existed.
The proposal's provisions on the legal protection of technical anti-copying and other technical devices from circumvention, violation or manipulation have been made more explicit, as requested by the Parliament, but still maintain a balance between the various rights and interests concerned.
Date: 21 May 1999 For further details: E3@dg15.cec.be