Elgar Commentaries series
Edited by Irini A. Stamatoudi and Paul Torremans
Chapter 8: THE TERM DIRECTIVE
Before its harmonisation, the term of copyright and related rights in the EU Member States' laws varied significantly. For example, in the UK and in the majority of Member States the duration of copyright was life of the author and 50 years post mortem auctoris (pma). This option was followed by most Member States, adopting the Berne Convention's minimum requirement for copyright protection (Article 7.(1)). At European level, this solution was adopted in the Computer Programs Directive of 1991 (Art. 1(1)). But there were also some variations among EU Member States. In Austria, Belgium, France (for musical works only), Germany and Greece it was life and 70 years pma. In Spain, from 1879-1987, the duration was the longest one among EU countries: author's life plus 80 years pma. The same happened with related rights. Indeed for neighbouring rights, such as rights in phonograms, performers' rights and rights in broadcasts, the variation was even wider, since not all EU Member States were party to the Rome Convention and not all EU countries offered specific protection for such rights (e.g. Belgium and the Netherlands). These differences concerned both the duration of the protection itself and the time when the protection period began to run. Therefore, the Directive seeks to harmonise these two issues, as the differing terms of protection in the Member States may be an obstacle to the functioning of the internal market.
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