Study of the EUIPO entitled “Consumers’ frequently asked questions on Copyright” coordinated by Christophe Geiger and Franciska Schönherr (CEIPI): Publication of the summary report

02.02.2017

With the aim of creating a copyright guide for consumers, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (the EUIPO), acting through the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights, commissioned a study in order to provide ‘answers to the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) average consumers have in relation to copyright for all twenty-eight EU Member States’. For that purpose, 28 renowned national copyright experts were asked to respond to these basic consumer questions against the background of their respective jurisdictions, under the supervision of Prof. Christophe Geiger, Director General, and Franciska Schönherr, Researcher at the Center for International Intellectual Property Studies (University of Strasbourg), who coordinated the study and authored the summary report of the project based on the replies of national experts.

This report has just been published on the EUIPO website: https://euipo.europa.eu/ohimportal/en/web/observatory/news/-/action/view/3423769

According to its Executive summary, the main findings of the study are summarized as following: “Copyright law throughout the EU does not give unanimous answers to Consumers’ most Frequently Asked Questions. While international and EU law have approximated the different copyright traditions to a certain extent, a closer look reveals that divergences still prevail. These might relate to the fact that even in areas that have already been the subject of harmonization measures, Member States have often not implemented provisions of EU secondary legislation in a uniform way. Moreover, some key aspects of copyright law have not been harmonised so far. The result is the following: even if a few common basic principles can certainly be identified, the exceptions to these principles as well as their implementation vary significantly”. Therefore, the report concludes by stating that “overall, it appears that the copyright framework in the EU is fragmented to a significant extent. Certain basic principles of copyright law appear to be valid across borders. It should therefore be possible to explain the general functioning, purpose and value of a copyright system to consumers in simple terms. Nevertheless, the overall analysis of the information provided by the national experts suggests that many questions related to ‘everyday’ uses of copyrighted works in the online world currently still lack a clear and straightforward answer as regards their legality”.