Eva Pressl on Sat, 19 May 2001 02:26:29 +0200 (CEST)

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++ EU Directive on Copyright ++ Interview with 
Zoran Pantelic/Association Apsolutno ++ Links ++
<http://world.information.org> ++ compiled by



On 9 April, 21 months after the first reading and three years since the
European Commission produced its first proposal, the EU's Council of
Ministers finally adopted the EU Directive on Copyright and Related Rights
in the Information Society. One of the most lobbied pieces of European
legislation, it affects the interests of the European content industries as
well as the daily lives of almost all citizens. In line with the E-Commerce
Directive that complements the Copyright Directive the time given to member
states to implement the directive into their national legislation has been
reduced from 24 to 18 months. With the adoption of the directive, EU member
states will accede to the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization)
Copyright Treaty (1996) and so will extend protection for European authors,
artists and creators in a global market.

Yet the aim to harmonize copyright law in Europe was not achieved. Articles
2 and 3 give rightsholders exclusive rights over copying and communicating
their works to the public. Article 5 lists the exceptions or limitations to
this exclusive right. There are 21 listed exceptions to Articles 2 and 3,
but only one of these is obligatory - the controversial issue of technical
copies on the net. Internet service providers and telecommunications
operators - if they fulfill the required conditions - can transmit such
temporary copies without the permission of the rightsholder. Which of the 20
other exceptions EU member states wish to take into their national
legislation is up to them to decide. They can choose from, but not add to
the list. So libraries, users and consumers may end up with different rights
in different countries. For example, a library in one EU state may be able
to digitize print material already in its collection while its European
colleagues may not; or a song copied legally on to a portable CD player for
private listening in one state may be illegal in another.

Private users and consumers will also have fewer rights, as Parliament
restricted the right to make copies for private use. Private copies may now
only be made 'by a natural person' rather than by an institution on their
behalf and on the condition that the rightholders receive fair compensation.
One of the forms this fair compensation may take is a levy on copying
equipment, such as tapes, disks or photocopiers. "We do not think this is
very satisfactory as it amounts to a tax on copying." says Sandy Norman,
copyright consultant of The Library Association. Another option would be to
impose licensing schemes, which are likely to work site specific but not for
those copying for private purposes. Yet member states are given the
flexibility in how to interpret the fair compensation provision and in
certain minor cases, there may be no obligation for payment.

Moreover the directive harmonizes the legal protection of rights management
systems and anti-copying devices. This gives industry the right to control
copying in the online environment by using technical blocks and also
complete control over the manufacture, distribution etc. of devices designed
to circumvent anti-copying devices. According to the directive, industry
should - either voluntarily or by way of agreements with other parties -
provide those who would benefit from a particular exception e.g. libraries,
schools in the case of teaching, with the means to do so. Yet this exception
remains voluntary for member states, and especially for private copying,
member states are not obliged to intervene in the case industry does not
provide consumers with the means to make copies for private and
non-commercial uses. "Those provisions give to industry a 'black-check' for
considering whether consumers will benefit from their rights or not." says
Victoria Villamar, legal officer of The European Consumers' Organisation.
Finally it can be said that the new directive has neither achieved the goal
of harmonizing the different national legislations nor created a balance
between the economic interests of the content industry and the interest of
the users, but led consumers in a worse position vis--vis their legitimate
right to make copies for private and non-commercial use.



"The problem is that the people in Yugoslavia want to change everything
overnight. They believe that the change starts and all of a sudden
everything becomes better. But this transition is a very complex process."  

Zoran Pantelic is a member of the artist group Apsolutno, which was founded
in 1993 in Novi Sad.



++ LINKS ++

European Commission, DG Internal Market - Intellectual Property

European Fair Practices in Copyright Campaign

The European Consumers' Organisation

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) 
>>> <http://www.wipo.org/>

The Institute for New Culture Technologies/t0
is the carrier of World-Information.Org
Museumsquartier, Museumsplatz 1
A-1070 Vienna, Austria
phone: ++ 43.1.522 18 34
fax: ++ 43.1.522 50 58
email: info-office@world-information.org

Under the patronage of UNESCO.
Co-producer Brussels 2000 - European City of Culture

Corporate Sponsors: Computer Associates, BLUE-C, 

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