European Commission copyright consultation/Registration

Digital transmissions European Commission copyright consultation
Registration of works and other subject matter – is it a good idea?
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The European Commission is considering modernizing European copyright laws. To get feedback and input on this modernization, the Commission has published a series of questions, and is looking to interested stakeholders (like our community) to answer them. This is a vital opportunity to participate in a dialogue that could have a major impact on copyright laws and the future of the free knowledge movement. More background is available from the European Commission.

We would like to prepare a draft response here, as a collaborative experiment. If we wish to respond, it will need to be finalized before the end of January 2014 (see the proposed timeline).

Welcome to the discussion! Please help by answering the questions below.

Registration of works and other subject matter – is it a good idea?Edit

Registration is not often discussed in copyright in the EU as the existing international treaties in the area prohibit formalities as a condition for the protection and exercise of rights. However, this prohibition is not absolute[1]. Moreover a system of registration does not need to be made compulsory or constitute a precondition for the protection and exercise of rights. With a longer term of protection and with the increased opportunities that digital technology provides for the use of content (including older works and works that otherwise would not have been disseminated), the advantages and disadvantages of a system of registration are increasingly being considered[2].

Question 15Edit

15) Would the creation of a registration system at EU level help in the identification and licensing of works and other subject matter?

YesEdit

  • --Sapfan (talk) 16:48, 17 January 2014 (UTC)
  • For the 51st year onwards as proposed by Sapfan below. --Nemo 17:41, 18 January 2014 (UTC)
  • Dominikmatus (talk) 16:16, 22 January 2014 (UTC)
  • Seb35 [^_^] 22:59, 27 January 2014 (UTC)

NoEdit

  • Your name here

No opinionEdit

  • Your name here

CommentsEdit

  • Registration would reduce the burden of search for those wishing to reuse potentially copyrighted content. In many cases, the year of death of an author or the identity of a pen name (pseudonym) is not publicly known and a potential user cannot tell if an old work is copyrighted or not. Compulsory registration would resolve such issues (no registration -> public domain). However, this would probably be a no-go as it would contradict Berne Convention and shift too much of burden on authors. So, as a reasonable compromise, we may (perhaps) propose that it should apply only to works copyrighted beyond the minimum terms from the Convension (e.g., during the 51st to 70th year after the death of the author). This could release plenty of works of lesser-known authors without affecting the broader framework. --Sapfan (talk) 16:48, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

Proposed Foundation answerEdit

Based on the comments above and to #16, I propose the following answer for the official Foundation response: —LVilla (WMF) (talk) 08:35, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

Yes.

Question 16Edit

16) What would be the possible advantages of such a system?

ResponseEdit

[Open question]

  • Such a system would be advantageous if it allowed to make the automatically applied copyright terms in legislation shorter (see our proposal on Term) and/or it allowed the user to easily identify orphan copyrighted works which can be freely (re)used without risks.
  • Only the works whose the authors want to give protection would have protection, and after a reasonable commercial exploitation the authors would not more have to bother about collecting the remaining fees. Moreover, the current copyright laws don’t even have an opt-out and mandatorily protect the work, even if the author doesn’t want such a protection: there is no mean to intentionally put works in the public domain (contrary to the USA).
    If authors could willingly put their works in the public domain, it would virtually reduce the infringement issue since some works would not be protected (and hence the volume of infringements will reduce, becoming without object for some works). ~ Seb35 [^_^] 23:55, 27 January 2014 (UTC)
  • ...

Proposed Foundation answerEdit

Based on User:Sapfan's comment to #15, and the Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU suggestions, I propose the following answer for the official Foundation response: —LVilla (WMF) (talk) 08:33, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

In many cases, the year of death of an author or the identity of a pen name (pseudonym) is not publicly known, and only extensive, costly research can allow a potential user to know if an old work is copyrighted or not. The Orphan Works Directive attempted to resolve these concerns, but in practice, appears to have failed. Compulsory registration would resolve such issues, limiting legal uncertainty and encouraging the digitalisation and safe re-use of orphan works, both in the Wikimedia projects and more broadly. While a full solution could cause problems with the Berne Convention, a limited proposal (such as applying the reform only to works older than Berne's 50 year minimum term) could release many works without a large impact on the broader copyright framework.

Question 17Edit

17) What would be the possible disadvantages of such a system?

ResponseEdit

[Open question]

  • Such a system would be hardly scalable. There are billons of new copyrightable works every day. It would be impossible to maintain such a system. Also, such a system would be inconvenient for users, especially those who create dozens or hundreds of works every day. --NaBUru38 (talk) 14:24, 11 January 2014 (UTC), I agree Dominikmatus (talk) 16:16, 22 January 2014 (UTC)
    Wouldn’t it be a feature of this system? :) ~ Seb35 [^_^] 23:42, 27 January 2014 (UTC)
  • ...

Proposed Foundation answerEdit

Responding in part to NaBUru38, and consistent with the proposed answer to #16, I propose the following response. Note that this somewhat contradicts the Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU suggestions, and is in some ways a fairly conservative approach. —LVilla (WMF) (talk) 08:38, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

Millions of people now create copyrightable content every day in blogs, wikis, and other internet publishing tools. Mandatory registration for such works would be difficult to implement, and perhaps less useful, since for newer works contacting the rights holder and arranging a license is less difficult than for much older works. A system that required registration of older works, while allowing new works to be copyrighted without formalities under Berne, could strike a good balance.

Question 18Edit

18) What incentives for registration by rightholders could be envisaged?

ResponseEdit

[Open question]

  • Registered works could be given longer copyright terms. Or to be more precise, unregistered works should be given much shorter copyright terms, like 10-20 years after publishing. --NaBUru38 (talk) 14:25, 11 January 2014 (UTC), I agree Dominikmatus (talk) 16:16, 22 January 2014 (UTC)
  • ...

Proposed Foundation answerEdit

Based on the Creativity4Copyright suggestions, and consistent with the proposed answers for #s 15-17, I propose the following answer for the official Foundation response: —LVilla (WMF) (talk) 08:39, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

As proposed above, registration could be made a prerequisite for prolonging copyright protection after the initial term — either after the current minimum Berne term, or after the much shorter term that most modern copyright research suggests would still produce an optimal level of output of copyrighted works.

ReferencesEdit

  1. For example, it does not affect “domestic” works – i.e. works originating in the country imposing the formalities as opposed to works originating in another country.
  2. On the basis of Article 3.6 of the Directive 2012/28/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on certain permitted uses of orphan works, a publicly accessible online database is currently being set up by the Office for Harmonisation of the Internal Market (OHIM) for the registration of orphan works.