Authors’ Rights in the Digital Worlds

Authors’ Rights in the Digital Worlds
5th European Creators’ Conference


Thursday, 15 April 2010
European Parliament, Brussels 

The conference concluded successfully with the closing remarks by Helga Trüpel, MEP, Vice-Chairwoman, Committee on Culture and Education. Moreover, the following key recommendations to EU institutions were proposed by authors in Europe.

European Copyright

We support the key notions of the Reding/ McCreevy “reflection document”: “Copyright is the basis for creativity” and the objective of “creating a favourable environment in the digital world for creators and rightholders, by ensuring appropriate remuneration for their creative works.” We do not think that a “European Copyright Law” is needed. Nevertheless, if it is introduced, it should be based on the “droit d´auteur” or “Urheberrecht”, which includes the moral rights of the author. We would not accept the Anglo-American concept of “Copyright”.


Contracting Right

There should be an appropriate balance between authors´ and publishers´ rights as equal contracting

partners. Collective bargaining should be exempt from the competition law.


Collecting societies

The system of national collecting societies is most important for author’s rights. Collecting societies are a safeguard for author’s remuneration and to facilitate the licensing of rights. Many of them also perform social tasks for authors. Many are supervised by state authorities to ensure transparency. This system should be supported and – if necessary – improved. Multi-territory licensing in the digital world should be managed by reciprocal agreements between the national collecting societies to secure cultural diversity in Europe.



To avoid a “black hole with regard to the 20th and 21st century” (Trüpel report) it is necessary to find ways for the digitisation and making available of copyright protected books (and pictures and other content) while respecting authors´ rights and remuneration. This is true, in particular, for orphan and out-of-print works. Collecting societies can play an important role in this regard. As far as orphan works are concerned, a legislative solution seems to be necessary. It has to be emphazised that the case for a right of remuneration for the digital use of orphan works is undeniable.


The Need for Public Lending Right (PLR) and Fair Remuneration in Digital Contexts in Libraries Public Lending Right (PLR) is the right for rights holders to receive remuneration for the use of their works in libraries. In September 2008 the European Commission’s report for the European Writers’ Council PLR annual conference stated that for the time being it would suspend its monitoring of the Member States’ implementation of PLR. The implementation of the “PLR Directive” is still lagging behind or has not been introduced in several Member States. We therefore call on the EC to review its decision. Furthermore, considering the progress made to-date by the i2010 digital libraries initiative and the new models being introduced for the digitisation and making available of digitised works, we  strongly believe that the making available of works in new digital contexts  in libraries should also be fairly remunerated



The settlement has not been accepted by the American court so far. In the new version of the Agreement, many European books are still included. We request that the European authorities protect the rights of European authors in the digital age.


Piracy. Protecting Intellectual Property

We agree with the Gallo report on the necessity to combat online piracy and to protect Intellectual Property rights on the Internet. Authors alone cannot fight piracy. The information society must strongly defend the copyright of creative content. We call for increased responsibility of internet service providers to remove illegal content. Violators of authors´ rights should be obliged to pay damages.


Readers’/Users’ and Authors´ Rights

We call for copyright awareness campaigns, especially among young users, to foster the notion of creation and an awareness that creators need to be able to make a living from their works. Young readers need to learn that Freedom of Information means unhindered access to information, but not without charge, when dealing with copyright protected content. Moreover, it is important to offer accessible legal platforms.


Copyright and Education

The Culture Programme can expand in order to support educational and awareness campaigns to value individual and collective originality and creativity, and to promote the respect of copyright in schools. Good practices in Spain (Cedro’s “Es de libro”) and in the United Kingdom (ALCS’s copyright education programme) show that children from the ages of 6-12, as well as teenagers and adults can be positively educated. There is a stronger need for innovative education in the digital age.       


New Ways of Literacy

There are and will be new ways to write, sell, use libraries, and read. Educational texts are changing. For instance, language education would be easier on e-books: you can read, listen and write on the same copy. We call for campaigns to promote reading in the digital worlds.


EU Policy to Enhance Diversity through Access to Digital Cultural Resources

Digitisation may help to make small languages and communities more visible. Moreover, more needs to done through cultural policy in order to provide equal access to knowledge in different styles of languages, and accessible formats for different readers (reader-friendly messages, access for the visually impaired and the reading impaired.) This can be effectively carried out by cultural policy rather than by the markets. The EU should support translation from all European languages into all European languages.


The “Cultural Flat-rate”

We reject the idea of an “online subscription fee” or “cultural flat-rate”. It would deprive authors and creators of the right to determine the use of their works. It would obstruct new digital business models. Users would have the right to use all content, even illegal offers.


No Creative Content without Authors

The future of creativity depends on the status of authors. They need fair income, and secure rights in the digital world. We call on European authorities to protect the future of creativity and creative content by protecting the rights of authors.