Copyright 2010 by CAS-IP


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“If copyright hadn't been invented, what kind of copyright would we want…”
This was the question put by the British Council. On April 9th they are hosting an event at which a wide range of speakers will discuss new ideas and proposals for the future evolution of copyright to mark the week when the world's first copyright act came into force 300 years ago. This document is CAS-IP's contribution to the debate.

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Copyright 2010 by CAS-IP

  1. 1. Copyright 2010: if copyright hadn't been invented, what kind of copyright would we want? Many would answer this question by saying “we do not need copyright at all”. But copyright, if well designed, can serve end-users, creators and the public. Common regime A strong international convention with unalterable conditions will be in place. Moral rights will be interpreted and applied uniformly in all states. A common agreement to enforce them uniformly is essential to ensure that copyright protects culture. If harmonization is not possible on an international level, it will at least be on a European level. Fair dealing/use Understanding when a consumer can use a copyrighted work without infringing a copyright holder’s rights is clear. Extended terms are defined so that the boundaries of the commons are preserved; the work itself uses a comprehensible code system (as in Creative Commons) to communicate to the public what users can do and in what circumstances. Derivative works Copyright cannot extend to derivative works. Authors of works which derive from copyrighted works do not need authorization from the original right-holder. However, a high degree of originality is required to grant protection to the derivative work. Registration The requirement for an international registration of copyrighted works facilitates the identification of the rights-holder, thus making it easier to provide legal access to works; the more legal access there is, the fewer reasons there are for people to opt for non-legal methods.
  2. 2. Responsibility for infringement There are clear parameters of responsibility for breach of copyright. Copyright has its own regime of primary and secondary liability without forcing the application of common law principles of “joint-liability” or rules from other intellectual property systems, like patents. In this way, end-users and service providers have a better understanding of when they would be in breach of copyright. Term The copyright regime promotes creativity and cultural activity. Protection lasts only for the life of the author. Collecting Societies The online world now takes advantage of the possibilities offered by digital formats to include all relevant licensing/payment systems in the file, so that artists are paid directly rather than using collecting societies. In this way consumers do not have to pay every time they use a copyrighted work. This system strengthens the link between artists and users. Conclusion Copyright law has one purpose: the promotion of culture and artistic creativity. In this regime, rights, especially if in the hands of non-authors, do not become mere commodities, as this could harm both the public interest and, ironically, also artists and creativity itself. By achieving this balance, current technology is fully utilized to ensure that knowledge and information is freely accessible and widely disseminated. Further, this copyright regime has a significant impact, not just on artistic expression, but also on research and innovation by creating a free flow of information. By D.ssa Francesca Re Manning with Kay Chapman and Peter Bloch CAS-IP is the intellectual property focal point of the CGIAR