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In the European Union, copyright law is increasingly a matter for the European legislator. Member states retain ever less competence to regulate intellectual property rights.

This study critically examines the 'acquis communautaire' in the field of copyright and related (neighbouring) rights, focusing on the seven copyright specific directives, from the 1991 Software directive to the 2001 Information Society Directive. It also deals with distinct issues that are on the agenda of the EU: After reviewing arguments for and against the extension of the term of protection of phonograms (sound recordings), the authors conclude there is no convincing case for extending the term of protection for sound recordings and performing artists. Neither are there compelling arguments to further harmonize the term of protection of co-written musical works. The issue of 'orphan works' is one that could benefit from an EU wide solution.

Having assessed the benefits and drawbacks of the fifteen years of harmonization of copyright, the authors conclude that the European legislator should exercise restraint in further harmonization efforts at least as long as a coherent vision of the role of copyright in the EU is lacking.

The Study was commissioned by the European Commission, DG Internal Market (2006) and is available at the Institute for Information Law website.


Also available as Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No 2012-44 and Institute for Information Law Research Paper No 2012-38.