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Commission hearing on copyright in the Information Society

A hearing on the issue of copyright and related rights in the Information Society was organized by the European Commission, on 8-9 January 1996, as part of the consultation process initiated following the presentation of the Commission's Green Paper on copyright and related ri...
A hearing on the issue of copyright and related rights in the Information Society was organized by the European Commission, on 8-9 January 1996, as part of the consultation process initiated following the presentation of the Commission's Green Paper on copyright and related rights in the Information Society in July 1995.

The hearing, organized by the Commission, covered certain specific aspects relating to technical systems for identifying and protecting copyright and related rights, as well as the acquisition and management of these rights in the Information Society. It was attended by more than 250 representatives of right holders, industry, users, relevant international organizations, the Member States and non-EU countries (including Central and Eastern European countries, the United States, Australia, Norway and Canada).

A consensus emerged from the hearing on the importance of the role of technical systems to allow the identification of works and other protected matter, and of the various right holders, with a view to improving control of access to, and use of, these works and other protected matter, as well as to managing remuneration of the right holders. The importance of these technical systems in the fight against piracy was also stressed.

Various initiatives undertaken by certain EU Member States and private bodies were presented during the hearing. These included:

- Presentations of work launched within the framework of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC);
- The CITED/COPICAT and IMPRIMATUR initiatives financed by the European Commission;
- The DAVIC project (Digital Audiovisual Council).

Issues relating to the development, standardization and protection of such systems were discussed at length and it was agreed that civil, and even penal, sanctions for the neutralization, violation or manipulation of these systems should be established at Community level. The Commission will seek to arrive at an international agreement on such legal provisions within the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

With regard to the acquisition and management of rights, the participants agreed that the impact of digitalization on the information market does not substantially effect traditional methods of managing rights. It was, however, agreed that attempts to rationalize these methods should be made where possible. Measures being taken at national level will be followed with interest by the European Commission. The operating procedures of collecting societies will also be reviewed.
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