Balancing in EU copyright law

During the 2018 AIPPI World Congress, a panel session was held to discuss the means by which copyright laws in different jurisdictions seek to achieve balance between copyright and other rights and interests. Once mostly achieved through exceptions and limitations, recent developments show an increasing role for other doctrines and methodologies. In Europe, balancing has moved increasingly into the sphere of constitutional law. The Court of Justice of the European Union has established that the protection of copyright is a fundamental right, which must be balanced against other fundamental rights, including the freedom of expression and of information, the freedom to conduct a business, and the protection of privacy and personal data.

The situation in Mexico and the United States was addressed by Ms. Irely Aquique, and Mr. Gregory Sebald respectively.

My presentation on balancing copyright in EU law is available here. It  addresses three kinds of balancing:

  1. ‘traditional’ balancing: copyright rules designed to protect other rights and interests;
  2. ‘internal constitutional balancing’: where fundamental rights are used to interpret copyright rules, specifically when defining the scope of the exclusive right, when interpreting exceptions and limitations, when assessing the suitability of specific enforcement measures; and, possibly, when defining copyrightable subject-matter; and
  3. ‘external constitutional balancing’, where other fundamental rights operate as an autonomous limitation to copyright, outside the statutory system of exceptions and limitations, i.e. where another overriding fundamental right ‘trumps’ copyright.

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