Europe and the train of the Digital Single Market


by Isabel Espín, Professor at the Law School of Universidade de Santiago de Compostela

The European Union must not miss the train of a true digital single market that will keep the momentum of its important digital content industry and make it more competitive without losing the essence of European cultural identity.

The Communication from the Commission on a strategy for the Single Digital Market in Europe of 6 May 2015 takes account of this and calls for a comprehensive legislative reform in order to combat fragmentation and barriers in the European digital market, a situation that has been affecting Europe’s leadership capacity in the global digital economy.

The basis for such regulatory initiatives are Article 4 (2) (a) and Articles 26, 27, 114 and 115 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. There are many topics involved in a comprehensive and integrated single market initiative: data protection, e-commerce, consumer protection, access (broadband and interoperability), competition law, taxation, etc.

From the point of view of copyright, the Commission’s communication on promoting a European economy founded on fair, efficient and competitive copyright in the digital single market, of 14 September 2016, is the instrument that point out the initiatives concerning the protection of copyright in the digital single market. Such initiatives are: the Proposal for a Regulation regulating copyright and related rights for online television broadcasts and rebroadcasts on online TV and radio programs; Proposal for a Regulation governing the exchange of accessible copies between the EU and third countries part of the Marrakesh Treaty; Proposal for a Directive to facilitate access to public works for blind and or visually impaired persons (Marrakech Treaty).

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Intellectual Property in the European Union

by Professor Luís Couto Gonçalves, Integrated Member of CEDU


  1. Copyright

In what concerns the copyright, the (now) European Union made a first harmonization effort following a position taken by the European Commission, on its 1998 Green Paper[1] which intended to reinforce the protection of the copyright and  related rights.

Based on this orientation, several directives were adopted: on the legal protection of computer programs[2], on rental right and lending right and on certain rights related to copyright in the field of intellectual property[3]; on the coordination of certain rules concerning copyright and rights related to copyright applicable to satellite broadcasting and cable retransmission[4]; on the harmonization of the term of protection of copyright and certain related rights[5]; on the legal protection of databases[6]/[7].

The circumspect nature of these legal instruments was intended in order to avoid the establishment of fundamental principles of copyright. It is true, however, that if we read them combined it is possible to extract some general principles or, at least, the genesis of some of the principles that would appear expressly recognized in the following directives.

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