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Benjamin Farrand

In the six years since the original publication of this Commentary on copyright, the EU has been subject to a large number of shifts and shocks that have dented its confidence and forced it to reassess its priorities, both in terms of market integration and in terms of its external actions and policies. From dramatic changes in the bloc’s composition, middling recovery from the Global Financial Crisis, large numbers of refugees arriving from war-torn states producing a sense of immigration panic, and a rise of anti-system, anti-EU and radical parties steeped in ‘populist’ messaging, the EU finds itself gripped by multiple crises and experiencing questions regarding the legitimacy of its policies and actions. While this may appear to be a somewhat unusual way to begin a discussion of the EU’s copyright policies over the past decade, these crises nevertheless have direct relevance to the approach to copyright law and policy that the Commission in particular has taken in the ten years since the official recognition at the EU level of the impact that the Eurozone crisis was having on the fabric of the Union. Copyright has not been a cause of these problems, but its further reform has been perceived as a potential solution for the economic problems facing the EU during a period of stagnation, lowering prospects and increased unemployment. However, in light of a growing and broadening crisis in the fundamentals of the European project.

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Benjamin Farrand

Questions of effective and proportionate copyright protection on the Internet have been the subject of considerable academic attention and policy-making consternation since the late 1990s. In particular, a question of specific concern is that of the interaction between copyright protection and human rights, and indeed, whether the protection of copyright is in itself a human right. This chapter seeks to explore these issues further, asking ‘what tensions exist between copyright protection on the Internet and other categories of human right?’ The chapter provides an overview of the international framework for the protection of copyright (including on the Internet), and the comparative treatments given to copyright and competing rights in the European Union and United States. In particular, it highlights the divergence in approaches between the EU and United States, with the EU seeing copyright as a form of human right that must be balanced with other competing human rights, such as the rights to freedom of information and privacy, and the United States not only discounting human rights approaches to this field, but considering that copyright as a right cannot be in conflict with other rights, but instead incorporates their protection into its rationale and modus operandi. This creates significant sites of protest in the online environment, particularly amongst activists, who consider that not only is copyright directly in conflict with other competing rights, but has been granted far too much supremacy over other human and fundamental rights.