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Archive for August, 2018

IFLA Statement on Copyright Literacy

Chris JHolland29 August 2018

Promoting copyright literacy is a significant task for library and information professionals, wherever they happen to work. IFLA  (the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) has just published an important statement on Copyright Literacy The statement is measured and comprehensive, stressing the importance of the role of libraries in maximising access to copyright-protected materials for their patrons within the legal framework of copyright. Copyright literacy is about understanding what you can do, legitimately, with copyright-protected material as much as understanding what copyright prevents you from doing. In the words of the IFLA Statement:

“…alongside the responsibility to recognise intellectual property rights, there is a parallel duty not to impose unnecessary restrictions on users’ right to access information. In short, libraries should use all possibilities provided by the law to give access and enable learning.” The statement also emphasises, quite rightly, the important role of Librarians in advocating for reform of copyright legislation and in particular advocating for robust limitations and exceptions to copyright. All those who have been involved in promoting the Copyright Literacy agenda within IFLA and in creating the Statement should be congratulated.

Dispute about photograph in school project referred to CJEU: Land Nordrhein-Westfalen v. Renckhoff

Chris JHolland14 August 2018

The Renckhoff case, C-161/17 is fascinating for a number of reasons: Firstly there is the bizarre fact that the reuse of a photograph of an historic bridge in Cordoba, copied from an online travel magazine and used in the Spanish language project of a school pupil, posted on the school’s website, should require a decision from the Court of Justice of the European Union. The words “sledgehammer” and “nut” spring to mind.

Secondly the conclusion of the Court is diametrically opposed to the lengthy preliminary opinion of its own Advocate General (in this case AG Campos Sanchez-Bordona). The Court does not always follow the opinion of the AG but in this case the contrast is quite striking and the Court does not address the reasons for this divergence of views.

Thirdly both the AG’s opinion and the judgment of the Court discuss the boundaries of the important concept of “communication to the public”. The latter is one of the restricted acts which are the preserve of the author (copyright owner). The question to be addressed by the CJEU was whether the re-posting on one website of a photograph previously posted without any (stated) restrictions and with the consent of the copyright holder on another website constitutes “communication to the public.” Both sites were freely available to users of the internet. If the answer is “yes” the re-use of the photograph is potentially  infringing, if “no” then it is not infringing.

The Court came to the conclusion that re-posting the photograph in these circumstances does count as “communication to the public” and is therefore infringing (unless in the given circumstances the re-use is covered by one of the exceptions to copyright ). There is interesting discussion of the concept of a “new public” which has become significant in copyright decisions by the CJEU and this discussion tends to reveal the limited usefulness of the “new public” concept in drawing a line between infringing and non-infringing reuse of copyright protected material. See also the coverage of this case on the IPKAT blog.

 

Can the taste of a cheese be protected by copyright?

Chris JHolland6 August 2018

The World awaits the outcome of the deliberations of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on this very question. Can the taste of Heks’nkaas be protected by copyright? Advocate General Wathelet’s opinion in the Levola Hengelo (C310/17) case was recently reported here on the IPKAT blog. The text of his opinion is not yet available but the AG’s answer is clearly “no.”
You might think that the answer is obvious, but to get to his conclusion the AG examines some of the fundamentals of EU copyright law, such as:
What are the limits of what qualifies as a “work” in the Infosoc Directive (2001/29)?
Is there a “fixation” requirement to qualify for copyright protection in EU law (as there is in UK law)?
The Court of Justice will eventually make a ruling which may or may not concur with the AG’s opinion. Will the Court confirm AG Wathelet’s standing as the “big cheese” of copyright law? We will have to wait and see!