Copyright shake-up raises fears

December 19, 1997

DANGEROUS loopholes exist in new rules which aim to harmonise copyright arrangements in Europe, publishers have warned.

The European Commission's draft directive aims to ensure fair copyright treatment across the European Union for products and services containing intellectual property, including those distributed electronically.

But the directive's wording is "too loose" to protect academic authors and their publishers, according to Clive Bradley, chief executive of the Publishers Association.

Under the proposals, authors would have an exclusive right to allow or stop any online distribution or reproduction of their work.

The directive backs the UK's copyright law where it restricts the display of protected works on a VDU screen. But it also introduces an "obligatory exception" providing reproduction rights for "certain technical acts of reproduction dictated by technology", such as copies arising during transmission of material over the Internet. Mr Bradley is worried that the directive will not prevent poaching of work in transit.

He also fears that other exceptions could include copying for non-commericial use and waivers in the case of "use for the sole purpose of illustration for teaching and scientific research".

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