Alliance: Digital Revolution & Legal Evolution – copyright and related IP rights in the digital domestic market

Cryptocurrency, big data, artificial intelligence, data theft, cloud, virtual, augmented, or mixed reality, cyber warfare, telemedicine, social media, autonomous driving, Industry 4.0, Criminal Law 4.0, NFTs – these are not the only issues that are bringing about the era of the fourth so-called digital revolution, which perhaps represents the most global societal change in history.

Each of these digital changes is bringing new challenges to all facets of society – the link between law and technology is one of the biggest. Adapting the law to the modern digital world is inherently complex, as it concerns disparate systems and, above all, the rigidity of the legal system is colliding with dynamic technological progress.

An example that illustrates the special relationship between legal and digital technologies very well are NFTs (non-fungible tokens). The legal nature of this blockchain-based technology, which contains unique digital assets (essentially electronic property), is still widely debated by legal professionals, not only with respect to potential government regulation, but also with respect to its relevant use in the private sector. The use of this technology is already widespread. A well-known example is the successful edition of perhaps the most famous work by painter Gustav Klimt – the painting “The Kiss” – in the form of 10,000 NFTs.

Among other things, the European Union has attempted to address the new challenges with Directive 2019/790 of the European Parliament and of the Council on copyright and related intellectual property rights in the digital domestic market and with the amendment of Directives 96/9/EC and 2001/29/EC. However, this Directive has been vigorously criticised in several Member States and its implementation is lagging behind in many respects. However, the recent CJEU ruling in Case C-401/19 Poland/Parliament and Council, in which even the most criticised provisions were given binding interpretations by precedent, has made clear that this legislation continues to be enforced in its original form under EU law. Specifically, the Court addressed that part of the policy that requires online service providers to prevent unauthorized uploads of copyrighted content.

Nevertheless, the content of the policy raises many further interpretation questions, and it will undoubtedly be interesting to see what further decisions will result in their practical application. In addition, individual Member States also protect copyright by criminal or other legal provisions:

Autor: Monika Wetzlerová-Deisler