Current Debate

There has been a debate about future developments of the copyright law in the Czech Republic, in the EU as well as worldwide. It is mainly recently that law-makers hear about worldwide calls for “comprehensive overhaul of the copyright law”.

The technical possibilities of today’s world and the lawful situations are increasingly divergent; due to the lengthy and complex law-making procedure, the copyright law remains quite conservative, lags behind the fast developments of new technologies and fails to effectively respond to them. Those who are critical maintain that the text of the Berne Convention regulating author’s exclusive right to copy the work dates back to times when tools for mass copying where exclusively held by publishers. The original purpose and rationale of copyright law under such provisions was to protect the authors against book publishers and it was not to be applied to non-commercial uses.

Moreover, ordinary users deal with these issues when browsing the internet every day and facing the obstacles created by copyright. In the past, the debate centered around artists and producers.

Some critical voices consider the copyright law as an artificial construct violating natural economic relations and free market. Many also fear that the copyright protection will be further extended disproportionately e.g. by creating new statutory rights related to investment for book publishers and/or theatre producers who still do not enjoy such rights as opposed to film and music producers.

There was also fear that the economic rights of performers and producers with respect to audio recordings of artistic performance would be extended to last for seventy years instead of fifty, which has actually happened recently. Such people keep criticizing, what they see as, an imbalance between the too long duration of economic rights in relation to the market life of the work (most of the works are forgotten before the protection expires).

Others see copyright law as an effective tool to support new works to be created.

The Czech Republic has seen a long-term debate about the role and existence of copyright collective societies. What is criticized most often is the statutory right of such societies to collect fair compensation and grant licenses to some uses on behalf of authors who they do not represent under a contract on representation. Another controversial issue is the statutory monopoly of copyright collective societies, i.e. the fact there is only one organization that may be responsible for the collective management with respect to certain uses or works.

You can follow the news related to copyright here or here.