Clare Painter Associates

Copyright audits, digital rights, publishing contracts & permissions

EU Copyright Exceptions

This post was first published in Clare Painter’s digital rights newsletter on 26 September 2016

New Online Tool for EU Copyright Exceptions

Copyright exceptions are changing

There’s a great deal going on in the world of copyright reform, and I thought you might like to know about a handy new tool available online. It’s also free of charge.

There are currently multiple changes being implemented to the list of copyright exceptions in the countries of the European Union: exceptions are special provisions which allow you to use copyright material without needing formal permission from the rights holder, in specific circumstances.

It can be confusing when, inevitably, some countries legislate more swiftly than others, so to assist with this problem a new website has been set up. This shows you details of all the new exceptions, and the status of each one in every EU country: CopyrightExceptions.EU

Personally I find the map view particularly useful for an ‘at a glance’ view of particular exceptions across different countries. You will see there’s still some way to go in new legislation!

‘Fair’ Use

This post was first published in Clare Painter’s digital rights newsletter on 11 May 2016

When Can Use Be ‘Fair’?

Copyright rules vary across the world

Whenever you draw on someone else’s content, you need to know whether you’re likely to be breaching copyright or not. In the US, for example, ‘fair use’ was set up partly so as to allow certain reasonable uses without the (perhaps, perceived?) barrier of needing to seek permission.

But it doesn’t apply everywhere, and knowing when and how you can rely on it, can be quite nuanced.

New digital models sometimes push at the edges of what’s acceptable, and we saw this in action a week or so ago with the judgement of in favour of Google’s mass digitisation project.

However, ‘fair use’ as such only exists in a handful of countries. Most have their own legal variations, and these can vary widely. In the UK for example we have ‘fair dealing’: although it sounds similar, it is very different and a much weaker provision.

So, what does this mean in your own publishing?

It’s wise to handle copyright exceptions and exemptions very carefully, and understand that some small level of risk may still be present when you rely on ‘fair dealing’ or equivalent legislation – unless you actually get the opportunity to prove your case in court. That’s not a business model I’d recommend!