Why Cherry Picking Never Leads to Harmonisation: The Case of the Limitations on Copyright under Directive 2001/29/EC

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copyright exceptions, Directive 2001/29/EC, harmonization


The article examines whether the norms laid down in the Directive in relation to the exceptions and limitations on copyright and related rights can be conducive to a sensible degree of harmonisation across the European Union. Before discussing the degree of harmonisation achieved so far by the Directive, the first part gives a short overview of the main characteristics of the list of exceptions and limitations contained in Article 5 of the Directive. A comprehensive review of the implementation of each limitation by the Member States is beyond the scope of this article. The following section takes a closer look at three examples of limitations that have led to legislative changes at the Member State level as express measures towards the implementation of the Information Society Directive, that is, the limitations for the benefit of libraries, for teaching and research, and for persons with a disability. These exceptions and limitations were later on also identified by the European Commission as key elements in the deployment of a digital knowledge economy. The analysis will show that the implementation of the provisions on limitations in the Information Society Directive did not, and probably cannot, yield the expected level of harmonisation across the European Union and that, as a consequence, there still exists a significant degree of uncertainty for the stakeholders regarding the extent of permissible acts with respect to copyright protected works.