Elgar Commentaries series
Edited by Irini A. Stamatoudi and Paul Torremans
Chapter 1: IS THERE A CONCEPT OF EUROPEAN COPYRIGHT LAW? HISTORY, EVOLUTION, POLICIES AND POLITICS AND THE ACQUIS COMMUNAUTAIRE
Copyright law has undergone profound changes over the last decades. Assessing whether something such as a real European Copyright Law has now been achieved is quite a challenging task. This chapter aims at retracing first, the evolution of copyright law within the European Union (I). This evolution was dependent both on political and technological changes that have taken place since the creation of the European Economic Community established by the Treaty of Rome 1957. After reviewing that evolution, we will try to answer the question asked in the title of this chapter and, second, to assess whether there is today such a concept of European Copyright Law (II). Although approximate, it seems possible to distinguish three successive phases in this evolution: the focus on the relationship between copyright and primary European Community (EC) law in the first 30 years (1957-87), the process of harmonisation during the next 17 years (1987-2004) and the new subsequent era, where the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is playing the major role. It has been argued that at the time the Treaty of Rome was adopted copyright law was not affected by its provisions. Copyright law and EC primary law were seen as two independent pieces of legislation, which could and should ignore each other: while the EC was then only an economic one, whose primary goal was to create a common market, copyright did not have at that time a strong economic dimension, but was mainly cultural.
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