Project Description


Requirements for a modern copyright in the digital age

During the last decade, ways of distributing and consuming copyrighted works have radically changed. In the light of the emerging ‘digital economy’ fostered by a wide availability of broadband technologies, cloud computing services and changed user habits, the traditional concept of copyright has become subject to a broad public debate. It is more and more common to distribute digital copies of works not only by tangible media, but also via online accessible platforms. Nowadays, users “buy” and more often “consume” digital goods online.  From a legal, economic and social perspective, this paradigm shift rigorously challenges the classical copyright doctrine which follows an “analogue world” approach. Thus, this research project aims to provide a definition of relevant prerequisites for a modern, well-balanced copyright system based on a broad social consensus.

Recent case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and national courts indicates that the established copyright law is unable to provide appropriate solutions that meet the requirements of the digital age: In the last couple of years, several issues arose regarding a) the reselling of digital goods (CJEU C-128/11 – UsedSoft), b) the separation of the private and public sphere (CJEU C-306/05 – SGAE/Rafael), c) the scope of the private use exception within a digital environment (CJEU C-435/12 – ACI Adam) and the exception for temporary reproductions (CJEU C-360/13), d) the liability of access providers and website blocking (CJEU C-314/12 – UPC/, e) hyperlinking to copyrighted material in the WWW (CJEU C-466/12 – Svensson), and f) the implantation of an efficient levy system regarding hard disks by collecting societies (OGH 4 Ob 43/12w).

Against this background, the aim of this research project in which students as key figures of the omnipresent ‘prosumer-environment’ are participating, is to define the requirements of a modern, well-balanced copyright system. Students as digital natives are not only consuming digital goods, they are also in many ways contributing to cultural creation and the dissemination of creative content. It is therefore inevitable that a modern and effective copyright system should address the interests and needs of users and creators. These needs are particularly affected by the scope of copyright protection, ownership of rights, licensing, limitations & exceptions and collective rights management.

The participation of students with technical and economic skills in this multidisciplinary research project will provide added value for both researchers and students. Their specific insight into modern consumer habits as well as the confrontation with different interests in the political discourse will lead to important and possibly surprising findings. Based on this, the distinct interests of users and creators will be balanced in light of state-of-the-art technologies (consumption of digital goods via the internet) and future technological innovation like 3D printing and virtual reality. Furthermore, the research project addresses questions concerning the scientific and educational usage of protected works.

As contributors in this research project, students will carry out empirical research to determine the scope of the creators’ and users’ interests in the digital media. Students will also learn about the variety of interests and positions represented by other stakeholders, such as the content industry and intermediaries, and ultimately draw comparisons with user’s interests.  The cooperation of students and legal scholars within this project will provide a new impetus for copyright reform that will promote creativity and innovation as well as a fair remuneration system for creators.

Students will be involved in several facets of this program.  These include examination of the relevant literature, empirical research and knowledge transfer (publications and presentations addressing a broad public outside the scientific community). Additionally, internships will give qualified and ambitious students insight into scholarly practice.
The results of this research project will be disseminated in scientific journals and in various presentations, both on national and international conferences. In addition, the findings will be conveyed to a broad public via digital media including social networks.