Research Handbook on Intellectual Property Licensing
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Research Handbook on Intellectual Property Licensing

Edited by Jacques de Werra

The Research Handbook on Intellectual Property Licensing explores the complexities of intellectual property licensing law from a comparative perspective through the opinions of leading experts.
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Chapter 2: Copyright licensing: a European view

Alain Strowel and Bernard Vanbrabant


Copyright licensing rules in Europe vary widely: harmonization in this area has not yet taken place, and the European Commission (i.e. the EU body in charge of tabling new legislation) is not likely to address this issue in the near future. Only the fragmentation of the internal market and the territorial issues relating to the way copyright is licensed, in particular for online uses, are on the agenda of the European Commission.1 The European situation concerning copyright licensing can be summarized as follows: No uniform contract law. Some rules applicable to copyright licensing are defined in the general law on contracts which is codified in a civil code (in most Continental countries) or derived from common law (in the UK and other countries sharing the same legal tradition). There is no uniform contract law in Europe, although various initiatives to develop a common contract law are under way. Even for civil law countries, huge variations in contract law still exist, for instance between the Romanic tradition (France, Belgium, Italy, etc.) and the Germanic tradition (the civil code in Germany, called the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, or BGB, has peculiarities which do not exist elsewhere in Europe). Divergence in copyright licensing rules. Other rules concerning copy- right contracts are included in the various national copyright acts. Most of the time those additional rules are “designed to protect authors and performing artists2 in their contractual relations with exploiters”.3 Legislators in the continental European countries tend to introduce more protective rules than in the common law countries.

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