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Archived updates for Friday, July 23, 2004

EU Fine-Tuning Copyright, But No Term Extension

The European Commission has launched consultations on simplifying and fine-tuning existing EU legislation on copyright and related rights. The consultations, open until 31st October 2004, are based on a Commission working paper which suggests that current EU copyright legislation is generally effective and consistent, but would benefit from some improvements. 

In a press release on July 19, 2004, Internal Market Commissioner Frits Bolkestein said that  â€œSeven copyright Directives have been adopted over ten years. We need to make sure the early Directives are consistent with the more recent ones. This type of nuts and bolts work makes a real difference to how EU law works on the ground and we owe it to rights holders and content users, including consumers, to make this important body of EU law as coherent and as simple as possible.â€�

The first generation of EU copyright law consists of five Directives (91/250 Computer Programs, 92/100 Rental/Lending Right, 93/83 Satellite and Cable, 93/98 Term of Protection, 96/09 Legal Protection of Databases). The Commission has to make sure that this first generation of EU legislation is still up to speed with today’s technology and the realities of the markets. The review was started in 2002 at the Conference on “European Copyright Revisited� in Santiago de Compostela.

Some rights holders have argued for extending copyright protection for recorded music from 50 years to 95, to bring the EU in line with the US. However, the working document suggests that there is no apparent justification for such a change, given for example that there are no longer trade distortions arising from different terms of protection within the EU’s Internal Market. It also notes that in nearly all other industrialised countries, the relevant period is also 50 years.
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