This month our copyright expert Eugen attended a one day conference in Brussels to keep up to date with the latest developments in Intellectual Property law. “EU copyright, quo vadis? From the EU copyright package to the challenges of Artificial Intelligence” was a one-day conference held at Université Saint-Louis in Brussels on 25th May 2018. It was organised by the European Copyright Society, which is a platform for critical and independent scholarly thinking on European Copyright Law and policy.
There were over 100 participants from almost every European country and almost every area where Intellectual Property has an important contribution: many academics and researchers, practitioners from law firms such as Allen & Overy, consultants from Deloitte, media companies such as Channel 4 Television, ARD or Google, collective societies as ZAiKS Poland and from law courts such as the Ghent Court of Appeal.
The morning session was focused on the ongoing reform of the EU Copyright, the directive proposal that will be debated in the EU Parliament on 21 June 2018. There were presentations (text & data mining, education & libraries, the newly created right for press publishers) by academics highlighting the improvements brought by this proposal and its numerous shortcomings followed by interesting debates between the audience and a group of officials from the European Commission (Copyright Unit I.2, DG CNECT) invited to explain their vision and defend their point of view. Despite this, the general opinion in the room was that the copyright landscape will be polarised between rights-holders, who’s position will be greatly strengthened and enhanced, and a strictly regulated ‘small island of free access’ limited to libraries and universities and not much in between. Some participants were so critical of this proposed directive that they label it as ‘not fit for purpose’.
In the afternoon, the speakers discussed about the looming challenges that Artificial Intelligence (AI) poses to various key notions of copyright therefore the debates were both dry and technical. One particularly interesting debate was about the (proposed) ownership of copyright in machine generated data. Some participants commented that from the point of view of the European car-manufacturers this will balance out the GDPR (which prevents them to use data generated by increasingly sophisticated automobiles) while also preventing overseas competitors to use this data when designing autonomous cars.
There was also a book launch – P.B. Hugenholtz (ed.), Copyright Reconstructed, 2018 (with contributions of five members of the European Copyright Society).
It was extremely interesting to hear the strengths and weaknesses of the forthcoming EU copyright directive and to have a fairly clear idea of what is to come. The conference being organised in Brussels (this year) ensured a wide participation which vigorously (and belatedly) tested the EU officials. It will definitely help if academics and organisations like European Copyright Society, as a part of the civil society, will be more involved in the EU legislative process.