The Commissions efforts to rejuvenate Copyright Law

by lauraadrianagrinschgl

Considerable strains have been placed upon the existing copyright framework in Europe through enormous changes in the way in which copyrighted works are consumed and created. We have experienced a shift from ownership to access based consumption models, goods- based to service- based supply models and the growth of digital networks, which introduce us to new distribution possibilities of copyrighted works.[1]

Copyright law is now more than ever subject to numerous challenges and with the emergence of difficulties, the calls to harmonize copyright law in the same way as trade mark law already has been, become louder and louder. [2]

The digital single market strategy of the European Commission, which was identified as one of the 10 political priorities in the digital Agenda for Europe, aims to realise the potential of the European digital economy. [3]

The decrease of piracy, which still remains perceived as a massive problem, as well as the need to clarify the rules on activities of intermediaries in relation to copyright protected content, are just some actions to be taken in order to achieve the DSM.

With the commencement of the Internet and the rise of “digital technologies” the music industry has changed. Different ways to reduce infringement on the Internet have been pursued; including legal actions against administrators of file sharing services and individual file sharers or websites blocking measures, but something that has shown a significant effect is the creation of attractive legitimate offers.

For example streaming music services have been driving the demand for legal alternatives and shown incredible potential to decrease piracy on the Internet. Enforcement measures will still be necessary, but to create a digital single market in the European Union, market–based solutions should definitely be considered. [4]

Recently the PRS for Music and other players in the creative industries have reached out to the European Commission in order to tackle the unintended problems, which arose as a result of the hosting defence provisions (known as safe harbour). These were introduced into EU law through the E- Commerce Directive and shield e.g. host and caching services from liability for copyright infringement, if they merely act as an information host, instead of controlling the actual content. The argument was that the ambiguity of the safe harbour provisions fosters an environment in which creators do not receive a fair income from the exploitation of their work online and struggle to secure their careers. Simply, the provisions no longer reflect the online market they regulate and the need for changes to the copyright law is urgent. [5]

No matter how strong the Commission aspirations for the future may be, to make these visions of a modernized copyright law come alive, a uniform application of copyright legislation across the European Union by courts and legislators will be pivotal.[6]

Laura Adriana Grinschgl

Assistant Editor, QMJIP





[4] G Petteri, ‘The plan for a digital Single market in Europe and reforming EU copyright rules to develop a  market – oriented approach to reduce infringement on the internet’ (1/2016) European Intellectual Property Review.


[6] EU Focus, ‘Commission seeks to broaden access to online content and outlines vision to modernize EU copyright’ (2016).