Copyright in the EU: pre-judging the issue?


Adam Rendle

With the European Commission’s consultation on copyright underway, Adam Rendle assesses its potential implications for rights online.

In December 2013, the European Commission launched a consultation on the EU copyright regime. It aims to ensure that the copyright system “remains appropriate and is adapted to the new environment ... ensuring that it stays fit for purpose in the digital environment”. It left almost no stone unturned and asked for responses on 80 questions, taking into account issues including cross-border licensing, the ‘making available’ right, exceptions and private copying.

The premise of a number of the commission’s questions is that there are problems with how copyright operates in the digital environment, and it is asking for examples of and reasons for them.

It is a curious approach to take: seemingly prejudging the consultation’s outcome. It seems to overlook that digital marketplaces and business models are still rapidly evolving. The biggest players (eg, Spotify, Amazon, Google, etc) have been providing their current digital copyright services for a relatively short time and business models are still evolving, against the backdrop of piracy undercutting their offerings.