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Copyright and related rights in the Information Society

The European Commission has adopted a communication on "Copyright and related rights in the Information Society". The communication, adopted on 20 November 1996, is the follow-up to the consultation process initiated by a Green Paper published in July 1995. It proposes a numbe...
The European Commission has adopted a communication on "Copyright and related rights in the Information Society". The communication, adopted on 20 November 1996, is the follow-up to the consultation process initiated by a Green Paper published in July 1995. It proposes a number of legislative initiatives required to achieve a level playing field for copyright protection in the Single Market.

Single Market Commissioner, Mr. Mario Monti, on whose initiative the communication was adopted, commented: "We have to provide the basis for the Information Society to be a success for investors, rightholders, users and consumers, while ensuring we respect both the Single Market and current multilateral initiatives at the world level".

The Commission addresses all the issues raised in the Green Paper and outlines four priorities for legislative action aimed at eliminating distortions to competition between Member States and/or significant barriers to trade in copyright goods and services:

- Reproduction rights:
Once protected material is converted into electronic form and transmitted digitally, it is much more vulnerable to exploitation by copying than in the past. The Commission will pursue further harmonization of reproduction rights as a matter of priority;

- Right of communication to the public:
The market in on-demand services is considered to be one of the main areas of growth, with further technological developments to come. The Commission will propose protecting digital on-demand transmissions on the basis of a further harmonization of the right of communication to the public;

- Legal protection of anti-copying systems:
Digitization not only brings about new risks for rightholders of copyright and related rights, it also makes it potentially easier to administer and control acts of exploitation by means of access control, identification and anti-copying devices. Community legislation is required to harmonize the legal protection of the integrity of technical identification and protection schemes;

- Distribution right:
The distribution right entitles the author of a work to require his consent for any distribution of tangible copies of his work. The Commission intends to harmonize the distribution right for authors as regards all categories of works. Any initiative in this field should also affirm that the principle of exhaustion applies to the distribution of goods only and not to the provision of services, including on-line services.

Other equally fundamental issues for the exploitation of copyright in the Information Society (relating to broadcasting rights, the applicable law and law enforcement, management of rights, moral rights) will require further consideration and/or action before decisions can be taken. Proposals in these areas can be expected in due course.
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