IRIS Plus 2006-5: The Position of Broadcasters and Other Media under "Rome II" Proposed Regulation on the Law Applicable to Non-contractual Obligations

Author: Mireille van Eechoud, Institute for Information Law (IViR), University of Amsterdam

Published: 01/11/2006

What do you associate with the term "jurisdiction" in the context of transfrontier media services? The evergreen question of who may regulate a given RTL broadcasting service and according to what law? The proposal for extension of the subject matter scope of the "Television without Frontiers Directive" to include non-linear media services? The option to open the European Convention on Transfrontier Television to new jurisdictions, i.e. third countries?

Each association would be entirely plausible. Yet all of them touch only on one particular aspect of jurisdiction, namely jurisdictional arrangements agreed upon by states in order to facilitate media services across borders.

A complete second set of jurisdictional problems exists, however: Problems that arise out of private disputes between companies and/or private persons concerning the violation of their respective rights. These rights may derive from contractual obligations or be granted by law. Consider, for example, intellectual property and related rights, or think of torts, particularly claims for defamation or violation of privacy or unfair competition.

Matters of private international law, which is the field that concerns us when we look at international disputes of a private nature, have been subject to agreements between States for a long time: the 1968 Brussels and the 1980 Rome Convention address jurisdiction and choice of law problems for contractual obligations. In an effort to get an even better grip on this very complex field of law, the EC legislator started work on "upgrading" these conventions to EC Regulation. While "Brussels I" already applies, "Rome I" still awaits its final adoption in order for its private international law rules on contractual obligations to become directly applicable in EU Member States.

In addition, the EC legislator has started focusing on choice of law questions related to non-contractual private litigation that had not yet been addressed. Today, the work on a proposal for the "Rome II" Regulation is in full swing. Given its importance also for the audiovisual sector, this IRIS plus explores in full detail the background, objectives and rules of the envisaged "Rome II" on non-contractual obligations.