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EU Intellectual Property Law and Policy

Catherine Seville

Intellectual property remains not just economically significant, but also of daily importance to most businesses and individuals. The digital age brings many opportunities, but also presents continuing challenges to IP law, and the EU’s programme of harmonisation unfolds in this context. Taking account of numerous changes, the second edition of this accessible book offers a fully updated account of the law as it affects all the major rights, free movement and competition matters, and enforcement. It sets the substantive law in its policy context, and discusses potential reforms to this major area of EU law.
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Chapter 2: Copyright and related rights

Catherine Seville


Copyright is an intangible property right which subsists in various kinds of creative work. It is a comparatively modern concept. Copying on an economic scale was not practical before the invention of printing, demanding huge amounts of time and skill. And at least in some cultures, plagiarism was regarded as immoral. Copyright’s origin lies in monopolies of printing which began to develop in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Privileges and patents were granted for the exclusive printing of a particular book, or books of a particular kind. Although these privileges might be given to the work’s author, very often they would be held by the person who arranged for the printing of the work – a publisher, printer or bookseller. The modern notion of authorial copyright took time to develop. Once books could be produced in quantity, the market for them increased rapidly, and more people could enjoy access to them. Copyright law developed in response to these changes.

A distinction is often made between the common law system of copyright, and the civil law droit d’auteur system. The common law system is frequently characterised as primarily concerned with economic rights, and incentives to produce new works. In contrast, the civil law droit d’auteur system is portrayed as giving particular priority to the natural rights of authors, and authorial works. It thus takes care to distinguish authors’ rights from entrepreneurial rights (such as those in sound recordings, broadcasts and cable programmes)...

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