European Union Sees Flurry Of Activity On Copyright Policy

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There have been several important developments related to copyright in the European Union in the past week. Below is a summary.

Clickable Links to Copyrighted Material

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that website owners are allowed to provide links to copyrighted material that already freely available on other sites, without permission of the copyright holder.

If, however, the works were previously only made available to a restricted audience, and the link provides access to a new public that the copyright holder did not intend to publish to, the situation would be different as this would effectively circumvent protective restrictions.

They also held that member states are not free to strengthen copyright holder protection by broadening the scope of terms such as that in question in this ruling: “communication of the public.”

The full judgment of the Case C-466/12 Nils Svensson and Others v Retriever Sverige AB is available here.

Private Copying Levy Systems

The European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee approved a report on private copying levy systems, addressing evolving consumer expectations and workings within the single market. The report of rapporteur Françoise Castex includes recommendations on the implementation of updated lists of leviable devices and improved cross-border declaration systems.

Details of the report are available here.

A statement from several authors’ and performers’ organisations welcomes the report for its clarification of the laws on private copying levies for device manufactures and importers, and its balance of consumers’ freedom to copy with creators’ right to fair compensation. The report was made in response to a European Commission-appointed mediator Antonio Vitorino’s report, which the organisations said made “unrealistic” and “excessively burdensome” suggestions.

Collective Rights Management

EU industry ministers from the European Council agreed to the Collective Rights Management Directive on 20 February.  The directive was passed by the EU Parliament on 4 February (IPW, European Policy, 4 February 2014).

The draft text was first published by the European Commission as part of the 2010 “Communication on the Digital Agenda for Europe” and “Europe 2020 Strategy” policy which aims to facilitate licensing of rights and access to digital content, the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office (IPO) states on its website.

Lord Younger, the UK minister for IP, said “This deal should be seen as a positive step taken by the European Commission and I welcome this agreement. By simplifying cross-border licenses we are making sure that we continue to do all we can to support this thriving industry.”

The directive makes it easier for online music providers to set up cross-border services, said the IPO. It sets “minimum standards of conduct” for the bodies that licence copyright and collect royalties, and providers will be able to collect licences from fewer collecting bodies from different states for their services.


Julia Fraser may be reached at

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