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Judge-Made EU Copyright Harmonisation: The Case of Originality

Monday 22 October 2012 10:00 - 12:00
Cappella, Villa Schifanoia
Department of Law
Thesis defence
Eleonora Rosati

Over the last few years, political and academic attention has focused on the future of copyright at the EU level. Following two decades of piecemeal legislative interventions, which have resulted in a limited harmonisation of the copyright laws of EU Member States, a debate has ensued as to the feasibility and desirability of achieving full copyright harmonisation at the EU level. This might be obtained either through a EU copyright code, encompassing a codification of the present body of EU copyright directives, or by way of a regulation (to be enacted pursuant to new Article 118(1) TFEU), aimed at creating an optional unitary copyright title.
Thus far, however, no such legislative initiatives have been undertaken.
Despite this impasse, the CJEU has notably been acting in a proactive way, inching towards full harmonisation. With its 2009 decision in Case 5/08 Infopaq, the Court provided a EU-wide understanding of an important principle of copyright: the originality requirement. The CJEU further elaborated upon this in subsequent case law (notably, Case C-393/09 Bezpecnostni Softwarova Asociace, Joined Cases C-403/08 and C-429/08 Murphy, Case C-145/10 Painer, Case C-604/10 Football Dataco and Case C-406/10 SAS).
The meaning of originality adopted by the CJEU as a EU-wide standard is akin to that envisaged in continental Member States’ copyright laws, thus differing from the loose notion of originality under UK law. As such, an examination as to the implications of CJEU harmonising jurisprudence in this Member State shall be undertaken, with regard to the scope of copyright protection and subject-matter categorisation.
Overall, the contribution wishes to assess how, and to what extent, CJEU case law has resulted in de facto EU copyright harmonisation. In addition, it will attempt to foresee the fate of EU copyright in light of copyright reform projects which are currently being discussed in political and academic circles both in the US and Europe.

  • Eleonora Rosati (EUI - Department of Law)