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EU copyright consultation extended for another month

Thousands of responses have been received, but law-makers want more feedback

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The planned overhaul of the European Union's copyright laws has been set back by a month as a public consultation was extended.

The European Commission had asked for feedback by Feb. 5, but following strong lobbying from all sides, has decided to extend that to March 5. The internal market department said that some interested parties had asked for more time to finalize and submit their contributions.

The E.U. faces problems with the cross-border provision of services. Not all online services are available to consumers in all member states. In some instances, even if the "same" service is available in all E.U. countries, consumers can't access the service across borders. "They can only access their 'national' service, and if they try to access the 'same' service in another member state they are redirected to the one designated for their country of residence," reads a Commission document.

The consultation comprises 80 technical questions leading some critics to say that it is beyond the understanding of the average citizen.

Question 11 asks if the provision of a hyperlink leading to a work or other subject matter protected under copyright should be subject to the authorization of the rightholder. Question 12 asks if viewing a webpage "where this implies the temporary reproduction of a work protected under copyright on the screen and in the cache memory of the user's computer should be subject to the authorisation of the rightholder."

Other questions ask respondents if they have faced restrictions when trying to resell legally-purchased digital files such as MP3s or e-books.

"It is a well known fact that these types of consultations are often only answered by the 'usual suspects', namely advocacy organizations that closely follow the copyright discussions and hence do not feel daunted by the extreme technical nature of the questions," said Caroline De Cock, coordinator of the Copyright for Creativity Coalition (C4C).

Therefore C4C set up an answering aid at http://youcan.fixcopyright.eu

LIBER, an organization that represents the library community, has also created a guide to help people answer the consultation. "Responding to the consultation is critical because its outcomes will affect anyone who works with researchers, or who cares about future library services and access to cultural heritage," said the organization in a statement.

The consultation has since received thousands of responses. Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier said on Twitter on Friday that there had been "strong interest" in the consultation.

He was scheduled to make a presentation on the subject on Wednesday, but that is now thought to be postponed.

Meanwhile the European Parliament is expected to formally adopt Tuesday a new law on collective management for copyright and related rights and multi--territorial licensing of rights in musical works for online uses in the E.U. Although the Commission says this Collective Rights Management Directive is a welcome step in the right direction, it says the consultation is necessary in order to further improve copyright for the Internet Age.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.



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