Copyright in the digital environment

By EDRi · October 21, 2009

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Deutsch: [Copyright in der digitalen Umgebung |]

During the 1st European Innovation Summit that was held on 12 – 16 October
2009 at the European Parliament in Brussels, a workshop on the future of
Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) in Europe included a panel to debate the
subject of the IPRs in the new digital environment.

In the introduction it was asserted that national copyright laws are no
longer adapted to the digital environment, that old business models have
failed to produce results, that DRMs have been rejected by the consumers and
that the issue now at stake is how to adapt to new business models.

Professor Hugenholtz (IvIR, University of Amsterdam) said that licensing had
been impacted heavily by the territorial nature of copyright. The only
effective way forward is to create truly harmonising copyright regulation,
as has been done for trademarks already. The problem of exceptions and
limitations also needs to be effectively rethought.

Antoine Aubert (Google) repeated the point that the current exceptions and
limitations regime needed to be reviewed. He explained that the current
70-year copyright terms was too long. Google’s priorities have been to
ensure that content can find its audience in the digital world and that
rights owners get value for their contents.

Malte Behrmann (European Gaming Developers Federation) described how games
developers had profited from the Internet to reduce the number of
intermediaries in their path to the market. The online games industry has
quickly adapted to the digital challenges and has developed a variety of
business models. As a result, piracy is not an important issue and the games
industry therefore does not support extreme solutions for copyright
enforcement. He encouraged the film and music industry to follow the example
of his industry.

Giancarlo Miglioro (MrGoodIDEA) said that the issue of finance was missing
in the debate on the future of IPR. He said that major companies saw
intellectual property as a major asset and trade in it.

Francisco Mingorance (Business Software Alliance) said that the adoption of
the Hadopi law in France had demonstrated that technology was neutral and
can be used efficiently to enforce copyright without any risk to people’s
privacy. There should be a focus on adopting codes of conduct for IPR
enforcement, with ISPs responsible for monitoring and enforcement.

Christian Engstrom, MEP (Greens/EFA (Pirate Party), Sweden) said that his
party was pro-copyright but also pro-reform and pro-adaptation to the
digital age. He argued for a 5-year term of protection and that all
non-commercial uses should be free of copyright.

Professor Hugenholz reminded participants that adjustments to the copyright
term should comply with the international treaties and five years could not
be acceptable. However, the recent proposal of the Commission to nearly
double the term of protection for related rights has failed to provide
evidence as to the need for such a long term.

Margot Froehlinger defended that proposal by pointing out that it had been
accompanied with an impact assessment and that the Commission’s aim had been
to help performers. She warned against the criterion of “commercial
infringement” and gave the example of somebody copying a film and putting it
online without wanting to make a profit but doing so simply as a hobby.

1st European Innovation Summit

(contribution by Joe McNamee – EDRi)