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Copyright and related rights in the information society

This Directive aims to adapt legislation on copyright and related rights to technological developments and particularly to the information society.

ACT

Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society.

SUMMARY

Unless otherwise provided, the Directive applies without prejudice to existing provisions relating to:

  • the legal protection of computer programs;
  • rental and lending rights and certain rights related to copyright in the field of intellectual property;
  • copyright and related rights applicable to broadcasting of programmes by satellite and cable retransmission;
  • the term of protection of copyright and certain related rights;
  • the legal protection of databases.

The Directive deals with three main areas: reproduction rights, the right of communication and distribution rights.

Reproduction rights

Member States are to provide for the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit direct or indirect, temporary or permanent reproduction by any means and in any form, in whole or in part:

  • for authors, of the original and copies of their works;
  • for performers, of fixations of their performances;
  • for phonogram producers, of their phonograms;
  • for the producers of the first fixation of films, in respect of the original and copies of their films;
  • for broadcasting organisations, of fixations of their broadcasts, whether those broadcasts are transmitted by wire or over the air, including by cable or satellite.

Right of communication

Member States are to provide authors with the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit any communication to the public of copies of their works, including the making available to the public of their works in such a way that members of the public may access them from a place and at a time individually chosen by them.

The same applies as regards the making available to the public of protected works in such a way that members of the public may access them from a place and at a time individually chosen by them:

  • for performers, of fixations of their performances;
  • for phonogram producers, of their phonograms;
  • for the producers of the first fixation of films, in respect of the original and copies of their films;
  • for broadcasting organisations, of fixations of their broadcasts - regardless of the method of transmission.

Distribution rights

The Directive harmonises for authors the exclusive right of distribution to the public of their works or copies thereof. This distribution right is exhausted where the first sale or first other transfer of ownership in the Community of a copy is made by the rightholder or with his consent.

Mandatory exception to the right of reproduction

A mandatory exception to the right of reproduction is introduced in respect of certain temporary acts of reproduction which are integral to a technological process, the purpose of which is to enable the lawful use or transmission in a network between third parties by an intermediary of a work or other subject-matter and which has no separate economic significance.

The Directive also makes provision for other non-mandatory exceptions to the rights of reproduction or communication. In these cases, they are accorded at national level by the Member State concerned.

Rights of reproduction and communication

The exceptions and limitations relating to the rights of reproduction and communication are optional and particularly concern the "public" domain. For three of these exceptions - reprography, private use and broadcasts made by social institutions - the rightholders are to receive fair compensation.

The exceptions or limitations to distribution rights are granted depending on the exceptions relating to reproduction or communication.

Legal protection

The Member States are obliged to provide legal protection against the circumvention of any effective technological measures covering works or any other subject matter. This legal protection also relates to "preparatory acts" such as the manufacture, import, distribution, sale or provision of services for works with limited uses. Nevertheless, for some exceptions and limitations, in the absence of voluntary measures taken by rightholders, Member States are to ensure the implementation of an exception or limitation for those who may benefit from it. The Member States may also take such measures with regard to the exception for private use, unless reproduction for private use has already been made possible by rightholders.

Protection of rights-management information

Member States are to provide for legal protection against any person knowingly performing without authority any of the following acts:

  • the removal or alteration of any electronic rights-management information;
  • the distribution, broadcasting, communication or making available to the public of works or other protected subject matter from which electronic rights-management information has been removed.

Penalties and redress

Member States are required to provide for appropriate penalties and remedies in respect of infringement of the Directive.

Background

The objective is to transpose at Community level the main international obligations under the two treaties on copyright and related rights, adopted in December 1996 within the framework of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Directive 2001/29/EC

22.6.2001

22.12.2002

OJ L 167 of 22.6.2001

RELATED ACTS

Directives

Directive 2010/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2010 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services (Audiovisual Media Services Directive) (Text with EEA relevance) [OL L 95 of 15.4.2010].

Directive 2004/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights [Official Journal L 157 of 30.4.2004].
This Directive aims to ensure the enforcement of intellectual property rights. A new level of harmonisation of penalties and preventive measures as regards copyright is provided for under Directive 2001/29/EC.

Directive 2003/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 November 2003 on the reuse of public sector information [Official Journal L 345 of 31.12.2003].
Directive 2003/98/EC is not affected by Directive 2001/29/EC. It sets out a framework for the conditions of reuse for public documents. Its aim is therefore to ensure equal treatment for commercial editors within the internal market. However, public sector organisations authorising this type of reuse continue to hold copyright and related rights. They are, however, invited to exercise their copyrights in a way that facilitates re-use.

Decision

Decision No 1639/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 2006 establishing a Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (2007-2013) [Official Journal L 310 of 9.11.2006].
This framework programme encourages, in particular, the use of information technology, which has become possible since the answer to questions on digital-content intellectual property rights provided by Directive 2001/29/EC.

Recommendations

Commission Recommendation of 24 August 2006 on the digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation [Official Journal L 236 of 31.8.2006].
The Commission recommends that Member States promote digitisation and online accessibility of cultural material and digital preservation of the same. However, the digitisation, accessibility and preservation of cultural material in Europe should be in accordance with the terms of Directive 2001/29/EC.

Commission Recommendation of 18 May 2005 on collective cross-border management of copyright and related rights for legitimate online music services [Official Journal L 276 of 21.10.2005].
This Recommendation therefore proposes measures to improve the EU-wide issuing of copyright licences for online services. These improvements are necessary because new Internet services (webcasting, on-demand music downloads, etc.) require a licence that covers their activities throughout the EU.

Last updated: 04.07.2011

See also

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