A consultation exercise on the simplification and fine-tuning of existing EU legislation on copyright and related rights has been launched by the Commission.
The consultation, open until 31 October 2004, is based on a Commission working paper which suggests that current EU copyright legislation is generally effective and consistent, but would benefit from some improvements.
The results of the consultation will be taken into account by the Commission before it proposes legislative amendments within the next year or so. The review of the existing Directives is in line with the Commission’s Better Regulation Action Plan.
Seven copyright Directives have been adopted over ten years and it is important to ensure that the early Directives are consistent with the more recent ones.
The working paper assesses, in particular, whether any inconsistencies between the different Directives hamper the operation of EU copyright law or damage the balance between rights holders’ interests, those of users and consumers and those of the European economy as a whole.
The working paper concludes that there is no need for root and branch revision of the existing Directives but that fine-tuning is necessary to ensure that definitions – for example of reproduction right - are consistent. Similar updating seems necessary with respect to the exceptions and limitations set out in the different Directives.
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 that there are, for example, no longer trade distortions arising from different terms of protection within the EU’s Internal Market.
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