Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Copyright



The more I think about the current predicament State is in (and by extension, I am in) the more truly bizarre the legalities of the case get. The company suing State/Extra-Life is Belgian. State is hosted by a British company, and is registered in Britain, which surely means that its content must conform to UK Law, right? We have already determined that under UK Law, the user who posted the News item didn't commit any offense, because they referenced their source, and the copyrighted material was for solely informative and education use of reporting Current Affairs. UK Law states that this constitutes Fair Usage of copyrighted material, and that it can be used without permission.


This being the case, can the article, posted by someone in Britain, on a website registered and hosted in Britain then be subject to Belgian Law, where the above is not true? If to the best of their knowledge, the user has acted in good faith, and not knowingly infringed a copyright under the Law that they are immediately subject to, can they then be sued under the sovereign law of a country that they have absolutely no connection or relation to?


To say it's a legal grey area is being generous.


Under the European Union Copyright Directive there appear to be several provisions for exemption of copyright under Chapter II, Article 5, which surely supercede Belgian and UK Law that could easily apply in this case.


2. Member States may provide for exceptions or limitations to the reproduction right provided for in Article 2 in the following cases:

(a) in respect of reproductions on paper or any similar medium, effected by the use of any kind of photographic technique or by some other process having similar effects, with the exception of sheet music, provided that the rightholders receive fair compensation;

(b) in respect of reproductions on any medium made by a natural person for private use and for ends that are neither directly nor indirectly commercial, on condition that the rightholders receive fair compensation which takes account of the application or non-application of technological measures referred to in Article 6 to the work or subject-matter concerned;

(c) in respect of specific acts of reproduction made by publicly accessible libraries, educational establishments or museums, or by archives, which are not for direct or indirect economic or commercial advantage


Also:


3. Member States may provide for exceptions or limitations to the rights provided for in Articles 2 and 3 in the following cases:

(a) use for the sole purpose of illustration for teaching or scientific research, as long as the source, including the author's name, is indicated, unless this turns out to be impossible and to the extent justified by the non-commercial purpose to be achieved;

(b) uses, for the benefit of people with a disability, which are directly related to the disability and of a non-commercial nature, to the extent required by the specific disability;

(c) reproduction by the press, communication to the public or making available of published articles on current economic, political or religious topics or of broadcast works or other subject-matter of the same character, in cases where such use is not expressly reserved, and as long as the source, including the author's name, is indicated, or use of works or other subject-matter in connection with the reporting of current events, to the extent justified by the informatory purpose and as long as the source, including the author's name, is indicated, unless this turns out to be impossible;

(d) quotations for purposes such as criticism or review, provided that they relate to a work or other subject-matter which has already been lawfully made available to the public, that, unless this turns out to be impossible, the source, including the author's name, is indicated, and that their use is in accordance with fair practice, and to the extent required by the specific purpose;

(e) use for the purposes of public security or to ensure the proper performance or reporting of administrative, parliamentary or judicial proceedings;
(f) use of political speeches as well as extracts of public lectures or similar works or subject-matter to the extent justified by the informatory purpose and provided that the source, including the author's name, is indicated, except where this turns out to be impossible;

(g) use during religious celebrations or official celebrations organised by a public authority;

(h) use of works, such as works of architecture or sculpture, made to be located permanently in public places;

(i) incidental inclusion of a work or other subject-matter in other material;

(j) use for the purpose of advertising the public exhibition or sale of artistic works, to the extent necessary to promote the event, excluding any other commercial use;

(k) use for the purpose of caricature, parody or pastiche;

(l) use in connection with the demonstration or repair of equipment;

(m) use of an artistic work in the form of a building or a drawing or plan of a building for the purposes of reconstructing the building;

(n) use by communication or making available, for the purpose of research or private study, to individual members of the public by dedicated terminals on the premises of establishments referred to in paragraph 2(c) of works and other subject-matter not subject to purchase or licensing terms which are contained in their collections;

(o) use in certain other cases of minor importance where exceptions or limitations already exist under national law, provided that they only concern analogue uses and do not affect the free circulation of goods and services within the Community, without prejudice to the other exceptions and limitations contained in this Article.


If this case ever did make it to court, I can see it being very protracted and very messy, which probably isn't in the best interests of either party concerned. From all the research I've done so far - it appears that Copyright Law, where it pertains to the Internet is a big, bad, bloody mess.


I just hope that we don't end up being a test case.


I'm learning more about Copyright Law now than I ever really wanted to know.

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