Green Paper on Copyright in the Knowledge Economy

Green Paper on Copyright in the Knowledge Economy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Green Paper on Copyright in the Knowledge Economy


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Green Paper on Copyright in the Knowledge Economy

This Green Paper aims at organising a debate concerning online access to all types of works whilst preserving copyright.

Document or Iniciative

European Commission Green Paper of 16 July 2008 on Copyright in the Knowledge Economy [COM(2008) 466 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


Copyright is at the heart of debates concerning the online dissemination of knowledge for research, science or education.

This Green Paper deals firstly with the exceptions and limitations to exclusive rights permitted in
Directive 2001/29/EC and Directive 96/9/EC, and secondly with the particular issues related to the exceptions and limitationswhich are most relevant for the dissemination of knowledge and whether these exceptions should evolve in the era of digital dissemination.


The Green Paper focuses on how research, scientific and educational materials are disseminated to the public, and also on all types of material having a value in enhancing knowledge with a view to strengthening the free movement of knowledge and innovation – the “Fifth Freedom” – in the internal market.

The public addressed by the Green Paper comprises scientists, researchers, students, disabled people or the general public, more specifically any person who wishes to acquire knowledge by using the Internet.

The European Commission considers that wider dissemination of knowledge contributes to more inclusive and cohesive societies, in line with the renewed Social Agenda.

General issues

Directive 2001/29/EC has harmonised the right of reproduction, the right of communication to the public, the right of making available to the public and the distribution right. Whereas, with regard to exceptions, although the Directive has established a full list of exceptions to copyright protection, the list includes one obligatory exception and twenty optional exceptions thus leaving a large amount of freedom to Member States.

The Community being a party to the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), this text is applicable to the limitations on copyright.


Given the existence of directives and legislation dealing with copyright, this Green Paper aims to define the exceptions which have the most impact on the dissemination of knowledge.

Exceptions for libraries and archives

This Green Paper questions the scope of the exception for libraries and archives, the strengthening of access to works, the scanning of works and orphan works with a view to a possible amendment of the Directive on Copyright in the Information Society.

Exceptions for the benefit of people with a disability

People with a disability should be able to access works. This exception is not expressly provided for in Directive 96/9/EC on the legal protection of databases.

In this perspective, the Green Paper reflects on the efficiency of a licensing scheme by publishers in order to improve access to works, on the obligation of making works available in a particular form and the question of remuneration to recover the costs of formatting.

Dissemination for teaching and research purposes

The Green Paper asks questions about licensing schemes in order to improve access to works for teaching and research purposes, the modern forms of distance learning and the use of works at home for study.

User-created content

The user may also become the creator of content within the framework of new technologies. An exception could be envisaged for creators of content.


Copyright in the knowledge economy represents a significant challenge, in that its environment is constantly changing. The priority is to protect authors’ copyright, whilst also facilitating access to their works for all. The Green Paper highlights the difficulty of reconciling these two objectives.


Proposal Official Journal Procedure

COM(2008) 466

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