Harmonising Copyright Law and Dealing with Dissonance

Harmonising Copyright Law and Dealing with Dissonance

A Framework for Convergence of US and EU law

Sheldon W. Halpern and Phillip Johnson

The highly-regarded authors of this important work explore the constitutional, institutional, and cultural barriers to harmonisation of the copyright laws of the United States and the European Union. They consider these matters in the real world transnational environment in which copyright law operates and suggest that the reality transcends the differences, offering a framework for meaningful harmonisation.

Chapter 4: If there is a will, there is a way …: the broad legislative competence of the European Union

Sheldon W. Halpern and Phillip Johnson

Subjects: law - academic, intellectual property law

Extract

The Community approach should therefore be marked by a need to address Community problems. Any temptation to engage in law reform for its own sake should be resisted. The harmonisation of copyright law across Europe could be said to have begun in 1958 with the foundation of the European Economic Community under the Treaty of Rome with its rules on non-discriminationand on free movement of goods. The copyright harmonisation effort began in earnest with a resolution of the European Parliamentin 1974 which was followed by a Commission communication. In 1980 a Commission hearing was held in Brussels on copyright term which was followed by further significant Commission communications, relating, among other things, to copyright. Thereafter, in 1988 the Commission published the first Green Paper, Copyright and the Challenge of Technology. It not only urged creation of a single market for copyright goods and services but called for protection for intellectual creations and investment within that market against users from non-Member States. During this time, the European Commission’s approach to harmonisation was quite conservative, restricting itself to remedying Community problems and not undertaking law reform for its own sake. It also expressed the view that attempts to define rights owners or subject matter for rights would create contradictions and inconsistencies within the national law. The harmonisation project was piecemeal.

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