EDRI answer to consultation on EU copyright legislation
In October 2004 the European Commission organised a consultation on the review of EU legislation on copyright and related rights. EDRI sent in an evaluation, together with FIPR (UK) and VOSN (NL). The paper is available at: http://www.edri.org/docs/edri_copyright_consultation.pdf
In the paper, EDRI argues for higher standards of user rights. The response was endorsed by twenty organisations. In stead of deleting such provisions from older directives such as 91/250 on Software, 92/100 on Rental and Lending Rights, 93/83 on Satellites and Cable, 93/98 on Terms of Protection, and 96/09 on Databases, the Commission should broaden the protection of user rights in the most recent directive, 2001/29/EC, known as EUCD.
Most importantly perhaps, all the voluntary exceptions and limitations in Article 5 of the EUCD should become mandatory and further exceptions must be created to legitimise existing useful activities, such as using anti-virus software. The Software Directive must be extended so that companies seeking to build compatible products not just have the right to try to reverse-engineer interfaces, but also the right to sue platform vendors in national courts for the necessary interface data.
In their joint response EDRI, FIPR and VOSN ask for a broader review of copyright law. The Commission should examine in depth all the current conflicts with competition, employment, environmental and consumer law. According to the statement, an important failure of the current copyright regime is that many copyrighted works are not available to the public, but locked in right holders' vaults. A possible solution for this problem is giving the creator the right to reclaim the copyright from the publisher when a work has been unavailable to the public for three years. The work should automatically become public domain after a further two years if the creator has not exercised this right.
Another issue discussed in the statement is the EUCD's anti-circumvention provision. EDRI recommends that the abuse of a rights-management mechanism must void its legal protection, and should render copyrights protected by it unenforceable ("Abuse it and lose it").
The response comes to the conclusion that a Digital Rights Directive is needed to define the rights of consumers, and not just of copyright owners. On a global level something similar might be achieved by a WIPO treaty on access to technology and culture. As a first concrete step EDRI proposes a Digital Preservation Directive to enable Europe's libraries to protect our cultural heritage for the benefit of future generations.
EU Commission consultation on the review of the EU acquis communautaire in the field of copyright and related rights (19.07.2004)