Workshop report Copyright in Europe

By EDRi · October 20, 2004

Just before the Commission hearing on DRM, EDRI member FIPR (Foundation for Information Policy Research) organised a 2 day workshop on the future of EU legislation on copyright in Cambridge.

In his opening remarks, FIPR chairman Ross Anderson pointed to the ‘big, greedy’ industry interests dominating the discussion about so-called Intellectual Property Rights at present and called for a similarly ‘big, greedy counterforce’ which, he said, was already emerging from an ad-hoc alliance of industries concerned about copyright extremism, of user and consumer advocates.

Teresa Hackett summed up the issues in the Commission review. She pointed to the obvious contradiction between the Commission’s claims that the review was just about ‘finetuning for consistency’ and the origins of the review at the 2002 Santiago de Compostela revision conference, where Commission representatives had openly talked about a ‘Super Directive’ on copyright and related rights they wished to have. The inherent danger was, she said, that the 2001/29/EC Directive (known as the EUCD), which the Commission is proud of, but which is indeed a badly and inconsistently drafted law, would be used as a blueprint for revising also neighbouring Directives such as the ones on Software or on Rental Rights. As for the Database Directive, she said it should be repealed, because it never had any justification and allowed rightsholders to get, using some simple tricks, eternal copyright on databases.

Volker Grassmuck of Humboldt University, who also runs the project, joined Mrs. Hackett in his criticism of the EUCD, which was, according to Copyright expert Professor Bernt Hugenholtz of the University of Amsterdam, an ‘unimportant and possibly invalid’ piece of lawmaking. With respect to the consultation, Mr. Grassmuck said, the exhaustive list of exceptions in the EUCD must be opened and the definition of DRM, which contained indeed a triple tautology, must be reviewed. He spoke in support of a fruit-of-the-poisoned tree approach, as Ross Anderson had laid out in his response to the DRM consultation: a DRM which is abused contrary to other settled law should lose its protection against circumvention under the EUCD.

The Deadline for the Commission Consultation is 31 October, and EDRI encourages all interested persons and organisations to contribute to it.

Workshop Program 9 and 10 October 2004

Commission Staff Working Paper on the review of the EC legal framework in the field of copyright and related rights

(Contribution by Andreas Dietl, EDRI EU Affairs Director)