United Kingdom (Chapter)
Copyright in the Information Society: A Guide to National Implementation of the EU Directive, 2011
31 Pages Posted: 16 May 2014
Date Written: 2011
The United Kingdom (‘UK’) has a relatively long and rich copyright history and is only one of two Member States of the European Union (‘EU’) that has a common law, ‘copyright’ tradition, rather than a civilian, ‘droit d’auteur’ system. Since the early 1990s there has been a steady stream of harmonizing directives in the area of copyright and related rights, with the Directive on copyright in the information society of 2001 (‘Directive 2001/29/EC’ or ‘the Directive’) representing the most far-reaching example of these. The cumulative ‘Europeanization’ of copyright law has meant that the UK has had to come to terms with an erosion of autonomy in this area of intellectual property. For the most part, the UK has embraced this ‘Europeanization’, in some cases even inching towards a droit d’auteur approach. However, the potential for the Directive substantially to further the ‘Europeanization’ of UK copyright law faces three key obstacles: first, and perhaps most importantly, the lack of clarity in key provisions of the Directive; second, the Directive’s flexibility when it comes to exceptions and limitations and their interface with technological protection measures; and finally, the tendency of the UK to maintain longstanding features of its common law, copyright system. This chapter analyzes these obstacles according to the areas of exclusive rights; exceptions and limitations; and digital rights management.
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