The Relations between Copyright Law and Consumer's Rights from a European Perspective
European Parliament Publication, 2010
39 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2012
Date Written: November 10, 2010
Consumers are considered as key stakeholders in debates and discussions surrounding copyright law. This note, prepared for the European Parliament, analyses the current relations between copyright law and consumers’ rights in the European Union, in particularly whether consumers’ interests are taken into account by EU and Member States copyright legislation.
Consumers should normally not be concerned by copyright. Indeed, copyright is about exploitation of works, i.e. making available the works to a potential public, through direct communication or distribution of copies. Conversely, the end-use of a work, its acquisition and consumption (its reading, viewing or playing) has traditionally not been covered by copyright control and enforcement.
Until recently, consumers’ interests were thus equal to that of the general public, save for the private copy, that was the only copyright exception tailored to their needs. Their concerns aimed at ensuring a balanced copyright regime that could secure access to knowledge and culture. The digital evolution has however brought the consumer within the copyright realm. The main reason thereof is the extension of the reproduction right over temporary acts of copying that potentially covers any use of a work in a digital format. Contrary to over-the-counter sales, the provision of digital content on-line is generally made under end-user licensing agreements that define strictly what the consumer can do with its acquisition. The end-user being increasingly governed by copyright rules and licensing contracts, European copyright framework had to cater to the needs and expectations of consumers. The issues covered by this note are the territorial application of copyright and particularly of copyright exceptions, the user-generated content, the private copy, the notion of lawful user that limits the benefit of copyright exceptions, the mandatory nature of copyright exceptions, the rule of exhaustion or first sale and its digital application, the technological measures of protection.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation