16 January 2011

EU - Rights holders should register to gain full copyright protection, EU Commission advised

(OUT-LAW News) Rights owners should have to register with EU authorities in order to exercise all their rights under copyright law, the European Commission has been advised. A committee of three experts has said that as a measure to prevent the creation of 'orphan works' whose owner is not known the creators of material should have to register to receive their full copyright rights. The report also said that libraries, galleries and museums should be able to digitise copyrighted works that are out of commercial distribution if private owners do not do so. A 'high level reflection group', the Comité des Sages, has submitted proposals to inform the European Commission's policies on digital culture and its library of digitised cultural artefacts, Europeana. The Comité is made up of advertising executive Maurice Lévy; German national library chair Elisabeth Niggemann; and author Jacques De Decker. "Preventing orphan works in the future is a main concern," said the report. "In order to avoid orphan works in the future in an environment where creative production is exploding online (e.g. user generated content) without a clear indication of how to contact the creator, some form of registration should be considered as a precondition for a full exercise of rights." "The Comité realises that this would require a change in the Berne Convention and related instruments," it said, referring to a legal instrument binding many countries to laws respecting copyright. "Its members consider that a discussion on 'refreshing' the Convention should be taken up in the World Intellectual Property Organisation, and promoted by the Europea Commission." The Comité stressed the importance of ensuring the number of orphan works is reduced.