Brussels, 9 June 2000
AGREEMENT ON DIRECTIVE ON COPYRIGHTS
IN THE INFORMATION SOCIETY
The Permanent Representatives Committee today unanimously reached agreement, the Luxembourg delegation abstaining, on a common position on the directive regarding the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the Information Society by resolving the outstanding problems relating to exceptions to exclusive rights and to the prevention of unauthorised copying. After the finalisation of the text in all the Community languages, the common position will be formally adopted without discussion at a forthcoming Council session and then forwarded to the European Parliament for its second reading .
The draft directive seeks to provide a harmonised and appropriate legal framework in the Internal Market for copyright and related rights in the Information Society. In particular, it seeks to harmonise the rights of reproduction, communication, making available to the public and distribution of works. Its adoption is also a precondition for the Community and its Member States acceding to the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) concluded in December 1996.
The directive is based on the principle of striking the right balance between the interests of rightholders (holders of copyrights and related rights) on the one hand, and the interests of other parties on the other hand (Internet service providers, consumers, equipment manufacturers, libraries, publishers, and other beneficiaries of exception to rights in the Member States), taking into account in particular the possibilities offered by new technologies. It calls upon Member States to provide for authors exclusive rights concerning the reproduction as well as communication and distribution to the public of their works.
The directive, however, contains a list of optional exceptions to these rights.They may apply in special cases that do not conflict with a normal exploitation of their work or other subject matter and do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the rightholder. These exceptions or limitations may apply i.a. to reproduction for private use and for non-commercial ends, use for the purpose of illustration for teaching and scientific research, use for the benefit of people with a disability, specific acts of reproduction made by publicly accessible libraries, recordings of broadcasts made by social institutions etc. . In principle, rightholders are entitled to a fair compensation in some of these cases.
Rightholders are entitled to protect their works effectively by technological measures against any violation. However, where rightholders have not taken voluntary measures to give the beneficiaries of certain exceptions access to their protected work, Member States will have to take appropriate measures to enable users to benefit from the exceptions concerned.