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Limitations: The Centerpiece of Copyright in Distress

  1. Prof. Dr. Thomas Dreier


After the exclusive rights in copyright have been consolidated in a century-long historical development, limitations and exceptions have become the main instrument to determine the exact scope of copyright. Limitations and exceptions do not merely fine-tune copyright protection. Rather, they balance the interests of authors, rightholders, competitors and end-users in a quadrupolar copyright system. Understanding this is of particular importance in the digital and networked information society, where copyrighted information is not only created and consumed, but constantly extracted, regrouped, repackaged, recombined, abstracted and interpreted. However, serious doubts exist whether the present, historically grown system of limitations adequately balances the interests involved in the information society. Both the closed list of limitations allowed under Art. 5 of the EU Information Society Directive 2001/29/EC and a narrowly interpreted three-step test contained in Arts. 13 TRIPS and 5 (5) of the Information Society Directive appear as obstacles in the way of achieving the appropriate balance needed. This brief article outlines the issues involved which were discussed at the International Conference on “Commons, Users, Service Providers – Internet (Self-) Regulation and Copyright” which took place in Hannover, Germany, on 17/18 March 2010 on the occasion of the launch of JIPITEC.



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JIPITEC – Journal of Intellectual Property, Information Technology and E-Commerce Law
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