Christophe Geiger, Oleksandr Bulayenko, Théo Hassler, Elena Izyumenko, Franciska Schönherr, and Xavier Seuba, Centre for International Intellectual Property Studies (CEIPI) University of Strasbourg, Link
Abstract: In order to make the European Union (EU) copyright framework fit for the Internet environment and to make a single digital market a reality, it has become obvious that reform is needed. CEIPI thus highly welcomes the initiative of the European Parliament to support a revision of the copyright acquis in the EU through its Resolution on the implementation of Directive 2001/29/EC on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society adopted 9th July 2015. A democratic debate on questions of immediate relevance for Europeans such as copyright law is without any doubt necessary in a modern society and strengthens the legitimacy (and thus the acceptance) of the system adopted.
While acknowledging the importance of many timely and innovative proposals voted by the Parliament, the Resolution can still be described as a missed opportunity to make a stronger statement on some essential issues of copyright law in the EU, such as its territoriality and the related consequences on cross-border access to copyright protected content. Indeed, a more unified approach to copyright law in the EU seems crucial for the development of a truly European information society. Moreover, while taking on board a timely call for revision of some of exceptions and limitations and making some important statements in that regard, the adopted text appears to be unfortunately less ambitious and courageous in several regards than the original Draft Report proposed by the Rapporteur.
In fact, being the result of difficult political compromises, the Resolution in its final version contains some polarised and, sometimes, contradictory statements, making European legislature’s message to the European Commission not easy to follow. It can also be observed that, in spite of its title, the scope of the Resolution extends beyond InfoSoc Directive into areas regulated by other copyright instruments, notably the E-Commerce Directive and the Computer Programs Directive.
Nevertheless, the Resolution still contains some very important statements and thus deserves full attention. One of them is certainly a strong call for evidence-based norm-setting, the European Parliament rightly underlining the need for impact assessments before taking legislative actions. Indeed, some complex issues involving intertwined interests cannot be dealt on mere ideological grounds and the future of copyright in the European Union is of such importance that it needs to rely on serious and independent data.
It is thus hoped that the European Commission, encouraged on its way to copyright reform by the Parliament and taking into due consideration its Resolution, will make a historic step towards creation of a true single digital space for culture and commerce in Europe.