IRIS Plus 2003-2: European Copyright Law and the Audiovisual Media: Are We Moving Towards Cross-Sectoral Regulation?

Author: Jan Peter Müßig & Alexander Scheuer, Institute for European Media Law (EMR), Saarbrücken / Brussels

Published: 01/04/2003

It has long been obvious that audiovisual services can be offered transnationally, and digital technology has made an important contribution in this respect. Yet repeatedly we hear the complaint that there is still no adequate legal basis for the exploitation of this potential. For example, transmitting television programmes across national borders via satellite poses no problem in terms of technology, but a lack of protection for programme-makers in a receiving country can mean that viewers there are denied access to those programmes.

Irrespective of the territorial scope of copyright law, the structure of legislative provisions can also prevent the realisation of the full potential of current technology. This is a risk, for example, where rules on copyright have been framed for specific sectors and thus present disparities, despite media convergence and the fact that audiovisual services can be offered across a range of media. In such cases, service providers have to pick their way through a regulatory maze in order to secure particular exploitation rights.

This edition of IRIS plus explores the system of European copyright law as it applies to the audiovisual media. It discusses the aims of copyright law and how that law is affected by digitalisation, then goes on to ask whether we can identify a trend towards cross-sectoral regulation. Finally, taking the example of collecting societies, it examines how tools for the practical implementation of copyright law fit into the existing system.