As our friends at the IPKat have pointed out, Tuesday saw what should have been some highly proclaimed announcements from Brussels sneaked out with very little coverage, at least in the UK.
Buried in the mass of paperwork, which you can find here and here are a number of interesting ideas. The press release only mentions a couple:
1 A commitment to introduce a proposal on collective management in H2 2011 (which is not a new announcement)
2. A commitment to launch a consultation on the online distribution of audiovisual works (which it appears will tackle some of the issues raised in the Murphy case, windowing and other issues)
3. Orphan works - where the Commission's publications today (linked above) include the text of a proposed directive on Orphan Works - which (on a quick read) it would appear would apply only to allow public institutions to digitise and make available their collections of orphan works - and would allow for a pan-European status of "Orphan" to apply once that has been determined by a search in one country. It will be interesting to see how the details of this proposal have been structured so as to be compatible with the Berne Convention and other international treaty obligations.
Actually in many ways of more interest is the detailed "communication" that accompanies the press release, even if this is currently described as a "provisional" version. In it, we find a number of big ideas:
Looks like we will all be kept busy over the next few months or years.
A. The Commission is talking about consolidating the existing "acquis" into a single European Copyright Code and, more radically, exploring the introduction of a "unitary" copyright title modelled (it appears) on the Unitary EU Patent project (and which would apply as an optional layer in addition to national protection).
B As with last week's Hargreaves report, the Commission comes out in support of brokering copyright clearing houses, especially to help "amateur" users to clear rights for lawful use, as well as supporting initiatives such as the Global Repertoire Database.
C. Harmonisation of private copying levies.
D. (probably not that important, except to a select few) the review of the artist's resale rights (droit de suite) Directive.
E. Reviewing the EU's policies on IPR engagement with third countries.