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Green Paper on copyright and related rights in the Information Society

On the initiative of Internal Market Commissioner, Mario Monti, a Green Paper on copyright and related rights in the Information Society was adopted by the European Commission on 19 July 1995. The Green Paper examines a range of issues arising from the impact of the Informati...

On the initiative of Internal Market Commissioner, Mario Monti, a Green Paper on copyright and related rights in the Information Society was adopted by the European Commission on 19 July 1995. The Green Paper examines a range of issues arising from the impact of the Information Society on copyright and other related rights (rights of performers, phonogram producers and broadcasters), notably as regards the effects of measures in this area on the free movement of information society services. On the basis of open consultation on the questions raised in the Green Paper, the Commission will assess the need for EU-level measures, and the form such measures should take. This Green Paper is the first in a series of discussion documents concerning the Information Society to be issued by the Commission within the next few months. The EU has consistently favoured a high level of protection for intellectual property rightholders as a means of promoting creative work and innovation. The Commission is, therefore, keen that rightholders should benefit fully from new technologies and be encouraged to take advantage of the new opportunities presented by the Information Society. It also recognises the need for effective instruments to fight piracy in the digital environment. The success of the Information Society in the EU depends on substantial investment rather than technological innovation as, to a large extent, the technology already exists. The investment required to establish the infrastructure for the Information Society depends on investors being convinced that a "critical mass" of new services to be carried over the infrastructure exists. Investment in these new inter-active services, such as distance learning, remote health care, audio and video-on-demand and tele-shopping, itself depends on investors being satisfied that a suitable legislative framework exists. In the case of the EU, such a framework must not only guarantee investors an adequate level of protection for their investment, but also reassure investors that there will be a Single Market within which the free movement of Information Society services is ensured (i.e. without substantial differences in the rules and regulations applicable from one Member State to another). The need for such an approach was emphasised both in the Bangemann Group report to the June 1994 Corfu European Council and in the March 1995 Communication to the Commission from Commissioners Monti, Bangemann and Oreja entitled "Information Society Services: Building a Regulatory Framework". This Communication noted that the EC Treaty's existing rules on free movement of services (Article 59) and freedom of establishment (Article 52) should form the basis of this legislative framework. The Commission has also taken note of the call for a high level of protection for intellectual property right holders issued by the Group of Seven conference on the Information Society held in Brussels in February 1995. The Directives on protection of personal data and on the legal protection of databases, on which the Council of Ministers has agreed Common Positions, are both important measures in the EU's legislative framework for the Information Society. As regards intellectual property, the database protection Directive already constitutes a major step forward for holders of copyright and related rights whose works and related matter will circulate on the information superhighway, as many of the new services will be offered from databases. There is a wide range of other issues arising from copyright and related rights in the context of the Information Society which are not covered by the database protection Directive or the other Directives on copyright and related rights. It is these other issues which are discussed in the new Green Paper. The Commission is aware that these issues are also under discussion in individual Member States and third countries (such as the US). A wide-ranging consultation process with interested parties will now take place on the basis of the Green Paper (responses have been requested by the end of October 1995). In the light of these consultations, the Commission will make appropriate proposals for legislation and/or other measures during the course of 1996. In addition to the Green Paper on copyright and related rights in the Information Society, the Commission is also due to issue two other Green Papers concerning the legislative framework for the Information Society: one on audiovisual encryption and the other on commercial communications.

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