Tuesday, 6 May 2014

BEUC on EU Copyright Rules

Recently, the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) published the position paper it submitted to the Commission's Public Consultation on the Review of EU Copyright Rules. The consultation is part of the Commission's on-going efforts to review and modernise EU copyright rules.

BEUC invites the Comission to take the consumer perspective when revising the Copyright Directive (2001/29/EC). At the moment, there is an exhaustive list of optional exceptions and limitations to right holders' exclusive rights. In the future, users should be granted a clear set of (mandatory) rights instead, including the right to a private copy and rights reflecting fundamental rights and freedoms, such as the rights of quotation and criticism, e.g.. As regards the right to a private copy, BEUC calls for immediate EU action in order to reform the current system of copyright levies (they should be clearly indicated to consumers, see answer to question 67 of the consultation) and launch a reflection as to alternative systems of fair compensation.

Buying digital content is nowadays often effectuated through digital transmission. While re-selling a used CD is undisputedly legal, the same is not clear for the same album purchased via iTunes, e.g.. This is why BEUC calls upon the European Commission to carefully assess the consumer detriment from the existing discrimination between purchases of immaterial copies and of copies on physical media (see answer to question 13). BEUC doesn't propose a solution to the problem; this is as far as the position paper goes. 

Consumers are not only users of digital content but also create it themselves, which is referred to as user-generated content (UGC). They thereby often re-use pre-existing works (e.g. reuse of a song for a familiy video) and upload the result on the internet at little to no financial cost. This raises questions as to the right to property and the freedom of expression. BEUC calls for permitting the use of pre-existing works for UGC and refers to the Canadian rules on UGC as an example (see answers to questions 23 and 58 ff).

BEUC is realistic in only demanding more and not full harmonisation for the revised Copyright Directive (see answer to question 7). Let's wait and see how the Commission proceeds!

Of course, the position paper tackles many more questions, only the most relevant ones for consumers are pointed at here. If you are interested in the topic and read German you can also have a look at the position paper of the Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband e.V. for the same consultation.

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