- Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Andrej Savin and Jan Trzaskowski
If the Internet is without any doubt a perfect tool for disseminating and exchanging ideas through various ways of expression, the content accessible online involves, in many cases, works that are protected by copyright. Copyright law protects both the author’s economic and moral interests. Three major exclusive economic rights, that is, the right to reproduction, the right to communication or making available to the public and the right to distribution, have been harmonised at the EU level in arts 2 to 4 of Directive 2001/29/EC on copyright and related rights (‘the Directive’). The relevant acts are reserved to the author or the holder of a neighbouring right only. However, not all uses of works protected by copyright amount to infringement of an exclusive right. First, the right holder may authorise certain uses of his work, for example, by contract. Second, certain uses are left outside the sphere of his control, if they are covered by an ‘exception or limitation’ to copyright law. Limitations are a crucial element of any copyright system: they not only play an important role in access to culture and education but they also stimulate the creation of new works, which in most cases build on existing works. Other than exclusive rights, limitations are not truly harmonised: the European legislator chose the approach of an optional exhaustive list from which Member States were free to implement the ones they found most suitable (see Section II).
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