Copyright (European Union)

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The harmonized copyright law in the European Union is closely linked to the free movement of goods and services in the EU . The main legislative power of the European Union in the area of copyright and related rights is derived from this, since such rights could hinder the internal market .


Efforts to harmonize copyright law in the European Union already existed in the mid-1970s.

Concrete steps were taken through the Green Paper on Copyright and the Technological Challenge - Copyright Issues That Need Immediate Action (1988). This was at the beginning of the development to harmonize copyright law. This was followed by further concrete considerations and legislative steps at European level; for example, a summary of the main legal acts and documents on EU copyright law from the Commission on its website.

EU copyright form 2019:

  • Directive (EU) 2019/789 (television and radio programs) with provisions for the exercise of copyright and ancillary copyrights in relation to certain online transmissions by broadcasting companies and the retransmission of television and radio programs and amending Directive 93/83 / EEC .
  • Directive (EU) 2019/790 on copyright and ancillary copyright protection in the digital single market and amending Directives 96/9 / EC and 2001/29 / EC.

In between, green papers were published again and again for orientation (examples):

  • Green Paper on Copyright and Related Rights in the Information Society, 19 July 1995,
  • Green Paper on Combating Counterfeiting and Counterfeiting in the Internal Market, 15 October 1998,
  • Green Paper on Copyrights in the Knowledge Economy, July 3, 2008.
  • Green Paper on the online distribution of audiovisual works, 13 July 2011. This Green Paper is part of the Europe 2020 strategy .

At the international level (examples):

Since EU copyright law is now recognized as a brake on scientific and social development, a reform is also being considered at EU level. So wanted z. B. Günther Oettinger , EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society , will submit a draft for a modernized European copyright law by September 2015. As early as 2012, Neelie Kroes, in her role as EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, described the currently applicable copyright regulations in the EU as a major obstacle for research, the economy and culture. At the end of 2013, the Commission launched a public consultation on changes to EU copyright law and published a report on this.

On September 12, 2018, the European Parliament approved the controversial EU Commission draft for a new EU copyright reform .

See also: Criticism of Directive 2011/77 / EU .

Current development

The Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (JURI) and the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) of the EU Parliament held a public hearing on November 11, 2014 on the future of copyright law. The EU MEP of the Pirate Party , Julia Reda , presented an initiative report on the implementation of the Copyright Directive 2001/29 / EC on EU copyright to the Legal Affairs Committee of the EU Parliament on January 20, 2015. According to this, EU copyright law is to be further standardized and apply directly in every member state. This would either require the adoption of a regulation , for which the EU currently has no legislative power, or the conclusion of an international treaty outside the legal framework of the European Union between all Union member states or an amendment to the Community treaties. Julia Reda has also suggested that this should make copyright law more flexible and limit the term of protection to 50 years after the author's death. E-books will also be allowed to be copied and lent by libraries in the future. As in Germany or Austria, freedom of panorama is to be standardized across the Union and the right to quote is to be extended to include audiovisual media.

Against the intention of the rapporteur, the pirate Julia Reda, however, the Legal Affairs Committee a. The freedom of panorama was restricted and brought to a vote, while numerous negative opinions from civil society were raised.

The European Parliament adopted the Reda report on July 9, 2015 with several changes in content (in particular regarding freedom of panorama - see below) with 445 out of 542 votes, and asked the Commission to take the proposals of the European Parliament into account in the upcoming legislative proposals.

A fully harmonized European copyright law would probably be a mixture of copyrights from the different legal families:

  • German legal circle -
  • Romanic legal family -

and des

  • Common law -


Selected Copyright Principles in the European Union

Exhaustion principle

The principle of exhaustion generally applies within the European Union . If a work protected by copyright has been placed on the market within the European Union with the consent of the author, he cannot prohibit the sale (example: If a book is marketed by the author , e.g. through a publisher , every bookseller is or other sales facility in the European Union is entitled to offer and sell this book). For imports from third countries in which an author has placed a work on the market, however, special rules apply again (see e.g. parallel imports ). The exhaustion principle provided for in the copyright norms of the European Union ensures that the member states of the Union are no longer allowed to provide for international exhaustion.

A large number of judgments of the European Court of Justice have been issued on copyright and copyright protection . See for example (chronological, selection of policy decisions):

  • 78/70, Coll. 1971, 487
  • 62/79, ECR 1980, 881
  • 261/81, Coll. 1982, 3381
  • 55 and 57/80, Coll. 1981, 147, 161
  • 58/80, Coll. 1981, 181
  • 270/80, Coll. 1982, 329
  • 402/85, ECR 1987, 1747
  • 158/86, ECR 1988, 2605
  • 341/87, Coll. 1989, 79
  • 395/87, Coll. 1989, 2521
  • C-200/96, Coll. 1998, I-1971
  • C-61/97, ECR 1998, I-5171

Term of protection

The protection periods in the individual Union member states can in principle be determined by them, but the comparison of protection periods must not lead to discrimination of other Union citizens on grounds of nationality. According to the Bern Convention for the Protection of Works of Literature and Art, the minimum protection period is fifty years after the death of the author ( post mortem auctoris ).

The Union member states, which are all also member states of the Bern Convention, are free to extend this period. This term of protection was extended to 70 years in 1993 by the EU-wide harmonization of copyright protection ( Directive 2006/116 / EC ).

Special regulations apply to third countries and authors who are not Union citizens.

Freedom of panorama

By granting the freedom of panorama , restrictions of the copyright can be removed. B. would otherwise prohibit the photographing of copyrighted works (e.g. buildings) that can be seen from public traffic routes , unless the author of the work has given prior permission for this.

Directive 2001/29 / EC leaves it up to the member states of the Union whether and to what extent they grant freedom of panorama within their territory or not. A standardization of the regulations in all Union member states at the expense of panoramic freedom was rejected by the European Parliament on July 9, 2015.

Legal bases of the European Union on copyright

Legal acts of the European Union are based or are in part based on:

  • Article 53 (1) TFEU (authorization for directives for the coordination of legal and administrative provisions in the Union member states - formerly Article 47 (2) ECT - as amended by the Maastricht Treaty , previously Article 57 (2) ECT), and
  • Article 62 TFEU (reference norm - formerly Article 55 of the EC Treaty in the version of the Maastricht Treaty, previously Article 66 of the EC Treaty),

as no direct authorization to regulate EU copyright law is anchored in the community treaties.

See also


  • Dennis Amschewitz: The enforcement guideline and its implementation in German law. Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2008; also dissertation, University of Tübingen, 2008.
  • Frank Bayreuther: Restrictions on copyright under the new EU copyright directive. In: Journal for Copyright and Media Law (ZUM) 2001, p. 828 ff.
  • Nils Beier: The copyright protection period. A historical, comparative law and dogmatic investigation of the time limit, its length and its harmonization in the European Community , CH Beck, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-406-47216-8 .
  • Richard Brunner: Copyright and ancillary copyright problems of music distribution on the Internet - with special consideration of Directive 2001/29 / EC and its implementation in German law. Tenea, Berlin 2004; also dissertation, University of Augsburg, 2004.
  • Michael Lehmann: The IT-relevant implementation of the copyright directive in the information society. In: Computer und Recht (CR) 2003, pp. 553–557.
  • Jörg Reinbothe: The EC directive on copyright in the information society. In: Commercial legal protection and copyright - international part (GRURInt) 2001, p. 733 ff.
  • Martin Schippan: Copyright goes digital - The adoption of the "Multimedia Directive 2001/29 / EC. In: Neue Juristische Wochenschrift (NJW) 2001, pp. 2682–2683.
  • Martin Schippan: Harmonization or preservation of national cultural sovereignty? - The miraculous increase in the barriers in Article 5 of the “Multimedia Directive”. In: ZUM 2001, p. 116 ff.
  • Martin Schippan: The & # 156; Harmonization of copyright law in Europe in the age of Internet and digital technology: a consideration from a German perspective , Baden-Baden 1999, Nomos-Verlag, 1st edition, ISBN 3-7890-6263-4 .
  • Gerald Spindler : European Copyright in the Information Society. In: Commercial legal protection and copyright (GRUR) 2002, p. 105 ff.

Web links

Wikisource: Copyright  - Sources and Full Texts

Individual evidence

  1. Recital 3 of Directive 2006/116 / EC
  2. ^ Martin Vogel: Harmonization of Copyright in Europe . In: Georg Ress, Michael Will (ed.): Lectures, speeches and reports from the Europa-Institut . No. 304 . Saarbrücken February 15, 1994, p. 5 , doi : 10.17176 / 20150617-161643 , urn : nbn: de: 0301-20150617-161754-92 ( ): “The first comparative legal studies and hearings of the commission on individual questions undoubtedly relevant to harmonization in the mid-1970s were without practicality Result."
  3. Publications Office of the European Union: Green Paper on Copyright and the Technological Challenge - Copyright Issues That Need Immediate Action. June 7, 1988, Retrieved April 4, 2019 .
  4. Problems of copyright law in relation to the fundamental freedoms are only pointed out and various aspects are excluded (e.g. with regard to cultural use).
  5. ^ Commission website at
  6. Full text: Directive 2014/26 / EU (PDF)
  7. Full text: Directive (EU) 2017/1564
  8. Both EU directives on copyright now published. Copyright initiative,, May 17, 2019.
  9. Full text of Directive (EU) 2019/789
  10. The Green Paper comprises two chapters. The first chapter refers to the modern information society and emphasizes its importance and importance for the internal market. In the second chapter, the most important points for the protection of copyright and ancillary copyrights in the information society are presented in nine theses. See: Copyright and related rights in the information society (PDF) COM (95) 382, ​​19 July 1995.
  11. See: Green Paper on Combating Counterfeiting and Counterfeiting of Products and Services in the Internal Market , COM (98) 569 final, October 15, 1998.
  12. ^ Green Paper on Copyrights in the Knowledge Economy , COM (2008) 466/3, July 2008.
  13. Green Paper on Online Distribution of Audiovisual Works in the European Union: Opportunities and Challenges for the Digital Single Market , COM (2011) 427 final of 13 Jul 2011. See also the public consultation that took place on this .
  14. On the occasion of the “2012 Intellectual Property and Innovation Summit” in September 2012.
  15. Public Consultation on the review of the EU copyright rules .
  16. ^ Report on the responses to the Public Consultation on the Review of the EU Copyright Rules .
  17. ^ Public hearing - the Future Development of Copyright in Europe
  18. DRAFT REPORT on the implementation of Directive 2001/29 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonization of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society (2014/2256 (INI)), dated January 15, 2015. (English)
  19. EU Parliament defends freedom of panorama and calls for copyright reform, of July 9, 2015.
  20. Pirates work: EU Parliament upholds the freedom of panorama for photos, calls for copyright reform, Kompass - Zeitung für Piraten, from July 9, 2015.
  21. EU Parliament adopts Reda report: Freedom of panorama remains, performance protection out in of July 9, 2015.
  22. Special case e.g. E.g .: fixed book prices , collecting societies , rental of video cassettes , CDs etc.
  23. See z. B. the statements in Recital 3 ff. Of Directive 2006/116 / EC.
  24. See Art. 1 Para. 1 and the statements in Recital 12 of Directive 2006/116 / EC. For the United States, see the Copyright Term Extension Act 1998.
  25. See Article 7 of Directive 2006/116 / EC.
  26. See: Art. 5 Para. 3 lit. h of Directive 2001/29 / EC
  27. Panorama Freiheit in, July 9, 2015.