Tag Archives: Digitisation

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


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Businesses in the internal market > Intellectual property

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

Copyright in the Knowledge Economy

Copyright in the Knowledge Economy

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


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Businesses in the internal market > Intellectual property

Copyright in the Knowledge Economy

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 19 October 2009 – Copyright in the Knowledge Economy [COM(2009) 532 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


After having analysed the responses generated by the Green Paper on Copyright in the Knowledge Economy, in this Communication the European Commission announces a series of actions to be implemented in the area of intellectual property rights.

What are the positions of the different stakeholders concerned?

The Commission collected 372 responses from the consultation launched by the Green Paper. The analysis of the responses shows radically opposed positions among the following key stakeholders:

  • archives, libraries and universities favour a wider-ranging copyright system, as well as a system of “public interest” exceptions to facilitate access to works;
  • publishers, collecting societies and other right-holders favour the status quo as regards copyright, and prefer contracts which can be adapted to each case and which take account of new technologies.

What is the Commission’s strategy in terms of copyright?

Libraries and archives

Digital copies and electronic dissemination of digitised works represent the two main challenges for libraries and archives. Currently, the digitisation of a library collection is subject to prior approval from right-holders, and the dissemination of works online can only be performed on library premises.

The Commission therefore intends to continue working at European level towards clarifying the legal implications of mass-scale digitisation and providing solutions to the issue of transaction costs for right clearance.

Orphan Works

Orphan works are works that are in copyright but whose right-holders cannot be identified or located. They cannot be exploited because it is impossible to obtain prior permission from the right-holders. Consequently, these works cannot be included in digitisation projects such as the Europeana library. Although the Commission published a Recommendation on the online digitisation of cultural material in 2006, and the Memorandum of Understanding on Orphan Works in 2008, there is no binding legal framework in this field at present.

The Commission plans to launch an impact assessment to explore a variety of approaches to facilitate the digitisation and dissemination of orphan works. Several options are being considered, including a legally binding stand-alone instrument on the clearance and mutual recognition of orphan works (this would be an exception to the provisions of Directive 2001/29/EC), or guidance on cross-border mutual recognition of orphan works.

Teaching and research

Enabled by new information and communication technologies, teaching and research is already widely internationalised. It is therefore important that copyright on books and publications does not hinder the development of these sectors. To this end, different processes in scientific publishing and publishing for literary and artistic aims are being envisaged. Furthermore, the Commission proposes to facilitate the acquisition and use of material for scientific research. Currently, the system is based on licence agreements concluded with publishers. The Commission wishes to consolidate best practice in this field in order to achieve a less fragmented system of usage rights to journals.

Persons with disabilities

The United Nations Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities src=”../../../../wel/images/doc_icons/f_pdf_16.gif” Title=”PDF” border=”0″ class=”alIco/”> stipulates that these persons have a fundamental right to enjoy equal access to information products, publications and cultural material in an accessible format. However, persons with disabilities have very limited access to these works for the moment (5 % of books published in Europe are converted into accessible formats). Moreover, the cross-border transfer of this type of material is hampered by the territorial limitation of copyright exceptions under national legislation.

The Commission’s main goal is to encourage publishers to make more works accessible to disabled persons. In this regard, the organisation of a forum bringing together the stakeholders concerned will foster solutions to give persons with disabilities better access to works while ensuring that right-holders are adequately remunerated for the use of their work.

User-created content (UCC)

With the development of Internet applications, users can now produce and share text, videos and pictures or create content, sometimes using copyright-protected material.

However, this phenomenon of content creation by Internet users is still quite recent. For this reason, the Commission intends to analyse the needs of this type of user further with regard to protecting their rights.