As part of the public consultation on a review of the EU copyright rules the EU commission included two questions related to a single EU copyright title. These questions refer to the fact that in the current situation all member states of the EU have their own copyright laws. These laws need to meet the requirements established by an increasing number of EU directives (such as the InfoSoc directive, the Copyright term directive, and the orphan work directive). This has resulted in a certain level of harmonization, but this does not take away the fact that in the EU the a copyrighted work is protected by 28 different copyright laws that apply to 28 different jurisdictions.
Compared to this situation a single European title would mean having one single EU copyright law that confers EU-wide rights to rights holders and establishes EU-wide exceptions and limitations. In our answer to the public consultation we urged the EU commission to start working on a single European copyright title:
Question 78: Should the EU pursue the establishment of a single EU Copyright Title, as a means of establishing a consistent framework for rights and exceptions to copyright across the EU, as well as a single framework for enforcement?
The establishment of a single EU Copyright Title would be a positive step forward for both rightholders and users of copyrighted content. It would help to harmonize the currently disjointed limitations and exceptions and copyright duration schemes across the EU.
Question 79: Should this be the next step in the development of copyright in the EU? Does the current level of difference among the Member State legislation mean that this is a longer term project?
Pursuing the establishment of a single EU Copyright Title should be the next step. Work on this should begin immediately.
One of the other organisations that also advocated taking steps towards a single EU copyright title is the European Copyright Society (ECS). In its response the ECS (which is made up of leading European copyright scholars and academics) argued for for the introduction of Union-wide copyright title and for the simultaneous abolishment of national copyright titles.
Just before the holidays the European Copyright Society reaffirmed this position by sending a letter to Commissioner Oettinger in which it once again advocates for a unification of EU copyright law. In their letter the members of the society briefly affirm the need to modernize the existing EU copyright rules (dryly noting that they “trust that [the European Copyright] Society’s opinions will be taken into account”) before they urge the Commissioner to go a step further: Continue reading