Parliamentary Question: Flexible exceptions and limitations to copyright in Europe

Marietje

Parliamentary questions

6 December 2010 E-010135/2010 Question for written answer to the Commission Rule 117 Marietje Schaake (ALDE) Subject: Flexible exceptions and limitations to copyright in Europe Commissioner Kroes recently said that ‘We must ensure that copyright serves as a building block, not a stumbling block’ (http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/10/619). Copyright gives certain exclusive rights to makers of creative works, who profit as a direct result thereof. To stimulate creativity, innovation, freedom of expression and thereby culture, these rights are balanced for public interest purposes with exceptions and limitations, which have been codified in the preamble of the WIPO treaty of 1996 and in several Member States’ copyright acts. A recent study by SEO Economic Research demonstrates that society and a large range of existing industries profit directly as a result of the balancing principle. The advent of the Internet and widespread use of digital devices, which enable copying at low cost, have caused an upset in the financing and distribution structures of creative works. These structures rely on business models which are based on the sale of tangible goods carrying said creative works. The Internet and digital devices have made the need for these tangible goods obsolete, because works can be disseminated more efficiently by digital means. The European Commission is intent on introducing legislation to extend the scope of copyright enforcement. However, the Dutch and British Governments have recently announced that they will consider the feasibility of introducing a flexible approach to copyright, such as the American principle of ‘Fair Use’, because many innovative uses of creative works are not covered by the current static list of exceptions given by the outdated Directive 2001/29/EC. Legal scholars have noted that the introduction of a flexible approach to exceptions and limitations is not inconsistent with the Berne three-step test, but could act as an additional ‘safety net’. Commissioner Kroes has also noted that increased enforcement and the ‘demonising’ of consumers will not solve the problems around existing copyright legislation. 1. Is the Commission considering introducing a flexible approach to exceptions and limitations in order to balance copyright in the single market in its forthcoming copyright proposals? If not, why not? 2. How does the Commission intend to follow up on the 2008 Green Paper on ‘Copyright in the Knowledge Economy’ in order to balance enforcement measures with flexible copyright exceptions? If no action is planned, why not? Please find the answer here.