A Historical Journey of the Linguistic Influences in Belgian Copyright Law: From United to Lost in Translation?
LANGUES ET DROIT D'AUTEUR - LANGUAGE AND COPYRIGHT, pp. 123-147, Y. Gendreau Y. & A. Drassinower, eds., Y. Blais/Bruylant, 2009
Posted: 1 Apr 2010
Date Written: February 1, 2009
The aim of this book is to examine the relationship between the language chosen to deal with copyright law (be it in legislation, case law or legal literature) and the philosophical orientation of the law in question. In other words, the book attempts to find out whether the language chosen by the legislature, courts and/or commentators had and still has an influence on the philosophical orientation of copyright laws and its evolution in multilingual or multi-system countries. Accordingly, this contribution’s approach is both historical and comparative and its aim is twofold. As Belgian law has been influenced mainly by two legal systems (that of France and the Netherlands), the first question is whether one or the other system was influential when drafting the first and second (and still current) copyright act and if so, if it is still influential now. In other words, do courts and commentators still rely on the French and/or Dutch copyright acts, case law and doctrine? Next, because the vast majority of Belgians only speak the language of their own region, the question is whether the worlds of Belgian French- and Dutch-speaking copyright lawyers (at all levels, legislative, judiciary and doctrinal) are completely water-tight or whether there is some exchange between them. To this effect, the paper first paints a broad picture of Belgium’s history and of the general legal influences throughout its history (section 1). Thereafter, the article examines the influences from the two main legal systems (French and Dutch) as well as others on Belgian copyright legislation (section 2), case law (section 3) and literature (section 4) through the lens of three significant periods in the country’s legal and political history. Of course, the article ends with some conclusions.
Keywords: Copyright, Author's Right, Dutch, Flemish, French, Walloon, Belgium, History, Language
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