Following the #AskOettinger copyright consultation that took place on Twitter with EU Commissioner for Digital Economy & Society Günther Oettinger on February 26, we invited Intellectual Property Law Expert Prodromos Tsiavos to discuss with us the best practices in copyright and fair use for the media industry.
DS: What is your opinion about the European Commission’s plans to rewrite the 2001 Directive on Copyright? What do you believe needs to be changed?
PT: This is an excellent opportunity to adjust the Copyright system to the needs of the authors and user-creators of the digital era. The current copyrights system suffers from fragmentation, poor understanding of how digital business works, lack of transparency in collective management of rights and very limited appreciation of limitation and exceptions.
There should definitely be more work on the harmonization of what constitutes public domain and the system of limitations and exceptions has to be adjusted so that it reflects the current practices of digital businesses, particularly those working in the area of Text and Data Mining (TDM).
The focus of a new copyright regime should be not merely on protecting existing rights-holders but also allowing new business models based on the reuse of existing content to flourish. This means we should primarily aim at substantially reducing transaction costs for reusing content, either through simple and transparent licensing or by extending the public domain or both.
DS: Do you agree that exceptions for text and data-mining of media content should be created and applicable in all EU states?
PT: By all means. In the next five to ten years almost all e-business will make use of some form of TDM. The existing system is unworkable. One of the primary problems we have is that the existing copyright law views literary and audiovisual works as works addressed to humans, whereas most of the innovative uses of such works see them as data out of which they extract semantic and syntactic elements. Unless a robust and clear regime for the regulation of TDM is established, ideally by exempting them from the prohibited uses of copyrighted material altogether, Europe risks being left behind from other regions where TDM takes place under a fair use regime or is left totally outside the Copyright system.
DS: Do you agree that fair remuneration of publishers in the media area should be more equitable through collective mandatory management?
PT: Collective management needs to be simple, transparent and to have a really low transaction cost. The aim should be that the author and not the administrator of rights is compensated. The new Collective Rights Management Directive makes an important contribution toward such a direction, but more work is needed by Member States to implement the relevant directive in a way that would ensure transparent and low transaction cost collective rights management to take place.
DS: Do you consider hyperlinking internet content to be copyright infringement?
PT: No. Such an approach would be an absolute disaster. It would effectively kill the web as we know it and as we hope it will involve. Linked Data, whether open or not would be rendered illegal and a whole range of services would have to be stopped.
About Mr Prodromos Tsiavos
Prodromos is heading the IPR department at AVG LAW Athens, is a legal adviser for the National Documentation Center/ National Hellenic Research Foundation and a member of the Executive Board of the Greek Free Open Source Software Society (EEL/LAK). Prodromos has worked for the European Commission, Oxford and Oslo University, the Athens University of Economics and Business and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He read law and Information Systems in Athens and London and holds a PhD in Law and Information Systems from the LSE. Prodromos has worked as an adviser for a number of public sector institutions and private cultural and creative industry organisations on legal issues of open data, FOSS, open hardware and open innovation/ fabrication and has participated in a series of legislative committees on issues of information and open data regulation. He is heading the licensing working group in the LAPSI2 project for the implementation of the amended version of the Public Sector Information Directive and is a senior research fellow at the Media Institute at the University College London (UCL).