Reconstructing Rights: Rethinking copyright’s economic rights in a time of highly dynamic technological and economic change


Principal investigator:
Prof. dr. P.B. Hugenholtz

Research group:
Prof. M.Kretschmer
Prof. S. Bechtold
Prof. S. Dusollier
Prof. A. Ohly
Prof. O-A. Rognstad
Prof. A. Strowel
Dr. J. Poort

As the European Commission’s consultation document on the review of EU copyright law implicitly acknowledges, the current set of economic rights granted to copyright holders under EU law lacks clarity and consistency, and raises serious obstacles for rights clearance and the roll-out of innovative content-related services. In the digital environment the rights of communication to the public and of reproduction increasingly overlap, requiring providers of digital content services to negotiate multiple permissions from concurrent right holders for acts that – seen from an economic perspective – are single acts of usage (s.a. content streaming). Moreover the right of distribution is not defined and interpreted consistently across the various harmonization directives.

This collaborative interdisciplinary research project re-examines the core economic rights protected under EU copyright law, with the aim of bringing these rights more in line with economic and technological realities. The project follows an interdisciplinary approach, combining economic and legal methods. One part of the project assesses the proper scope of the economic rights from a perspective of welfare economics. The other, legal part normatively evaluates the scope of the economic rights.

This research project is led by IViR and CREATe. It commenced in the Fall of 2014 and will continue for three years until the end of 2017. The project is funded by a research grant from Microsoft Europe. See for more information the Research proposal.

Symposium Brussels

On September 26th 2016, the research group organized a symposium at the Microsoft Center in Brussels. During the symposium, the main findings (so far) of the research project have been presented and discussed by high-profile experts such as Dr. Bertin Martens, Professors Alexander Peukert, Valérie Laure Benabou and Marco Ricolfi, and Mr Justice Richard Arnold, in the presence of a select group of academics, EC and government officials, and other experts. The program of the symposium can be found here.

The slides of the presentations and comments at the symposium are available through this link. The underlying working papers will be published within a few months.