Yesterday German pirate MEP Julia Reda presented a report on copyright reform to kick off debate on a common EU copyright law that would fix the legal “absurdities” of the current national regimes.
Reda notes that the 2001 directive has failed to harmonize copyright in the digital world. She offered an anecdote to illustrate her frustrations with the current state of copyright law.
“If I go on holiday to France, to Paris, and take a picture of the Eiffel tower, and put it on my Facebook page – whether or not this constitutes a copyright infringement depends on whether I take the picture during the day or during the night”.
That is because while the copyright protection on the structure itself has expired, the protection of the light show has not. And while the directive says photos of works of art in public spaces in the EU can be taken free of charge, France has decided not to implement this clause, nor have Italy and Belgium. In her report, Reda calls on the European Commission, which initiates laws, to make the clause mandatory for all member states.
She also calls for EU-wide rules that allow libraries to lend digital books online, to give internet users the right to use hyperlinks regardless of whether the content it links to is copyright-protected, and to include “audio-visual quotations” in the list of exceptions to copyright rules.
Reda stressed that she is not proposing “getting rid of copyright and staging a revolution” but “adapting” copyright rules.
The European commission held a public consultation last year, prompting some 9,500 replies. A vote on the report by the plenary session is expected in May, the same month that Commissioner Andrus Ansip is set to present a broad strategy for the Digital Single Market. A detailed copyright reform proposal is expected in the following months.
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