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Copyright and Freedom of Expression in Sweden and the European Union - The Conflict Between Two Fundamental Rights in the Information Society

Henningsson, David LU (2012) JURM02 20122
Department of Law
Abstract
Copyright and the right to freedom of expression both constitute fundamental rights in the European Union (EU) and should be protected accordingly. But what is the closer relationship, de jure and de facto, between these two legal regimes in the information society? This is one of three questions examined in this thesis. The presentation gives at hand that, traditionally, the notion has been that copyright accommodates or even promotes freedom of expression and that the two rights are compatible. However, it is also demonstrated that the two rights inherit a built-in legal conflict and that copyright inevitably imposes a restriction on freedom of expression.

It is illustrated that the conflict-oriented perspective has gained a great... (More)
Copyright and the right to freedom of expression both constitute fundamental rights in the European Union (EU) and should be protected accordingly. But what is the closer relationship, de jure and de facto, between these two legal regimes in the information society? This is one of three questions examined in this thesis. The presentation gives at hand that, traditionally, the notion has been that copyright accommodates or even promotes freedom of expression and that the two rights are compatible. However, it is also demonstrated that the two rights inherit a built-in legal conflict and that copyright inevitably imposes a restriction on freedom of expression.

It is illustrated that the conflict-oriented perspective has gained a great deal of attention recently as the friction between the two regimes has increased significantly. More specifically, the scope of copyright protection has become wider and stronger in recent time, while, at the same time, new web technology has made it much more common that people exercise their right to freedom of expression and information in a way that involves material protected by copyright. It is therefore concluded that the intersection between copyright and freedom of expression presents a potential de jure conflict, which de facto concerns a broad circle of people.

The second question addressed in this thesis is therefore one of enhanced significance, namely whether the constitutional right to freedom of expression can be successfully invoked as an “external” defense argument in a case where the contested action cannot be subsumed under any of the exemptions existing “internally” within copyright law. The presentation gives at hand that, thus far, Swedish courts have for various reasons abstained from applying such solutions. However, the direct applicability of international and supranational human rights instruments in domestic courts may have altered the legal situation.

Interestingly, not only the incorporation into national law of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) but also the enactment of a legally binding Charter of Fundamental Rights for the European Union (EU Charter) sheds new light on the issues at hand. To the extent clashes between copyright and freedom of expression occur within the scope of EU law, the question of whether a conflict can be solved by application of fundamental rights is no longer only a matter of whether higher-ranking national constitutional provisions should affect the application of domestic copyright rules, but also a question of whether a judicial review on the conformity of EU secondary law with EU primary law should be undertaken. It is therefore worth noting that the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) in three recent landmark cases has held that national courts are required to strike a fair balance between the protection of copyright and the protection of other rights enshrined in the EU Charter, such as the right to freedom of expression, when applying national provisions stemming from EU Copyright Directives. These cases are thoroughly analyzed in this thesis.

Thirdly, some consequences associated with the application of constitutional rights in copyright infringement cases are outlined. Arguments are presented as for why an increased application should be welcomed. However, it is simultaneously recognized that, for various reasons, the constitutional tool should be applied with caution. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Upphovsrätt och rätten till yttrandefrihet faller båda in under kategorin fundamentala rättigheter inom den Europeiska unionen (EU) och de förtjänar att åtnjuta skydd därefter. Men vad är det närmare rättsliga och faktiska förhållandet mellan dessa båda rättigheter i dagens informationssamhälle? Detta är en av tre frågor som skärskådas i uppsatsen. Presentationen ger vid handen att den traditionella uppfattningen har varit att upphovsrätt ackommoderar eller till och med främjar yttrandefrihet och att det råder kompatibilitet rättigheterna emellan. Men uppsatsen visar också att det finns en inbyggd rättslig konflikt mellan rättigheterna och att upphovsrätt ofrånkomligen utgör en begränsning av yttrandefriheten.

Framställningen visar... (More)
Upphovsrätt och rätten till yttrandefrihet faller båda in under kategorin fundamentala rättigheter inom den Europeiska unionen (EU) och de förtjänar att åtnjuta skydd därefter. Men vad är det närmare rättsliga och faktiska förhållandet mellan dessa båda rättigheter i dagens informationssamhälle? Detta är en av tre frågor som skärskådas i uppsatsen. Presentationen ger vid handen att den traditionella uppfattningen har varit att upphovsrätt ackommoderar eller till och med främjar yttrandefrihet och att det råder kompatibilitet rättigheterna emellan. Men uppsatsen visar också att det finns en inbyggd rättslig konflikt mellan rättigheterna och att upphovsrätt ofrånkomligen utgör en begränsning av yttrandefriheten.

Framställningen visar vidare att det konfliktorienterade perspektivet har rönt betydligt mer uppmärksamhet på senare tid. Anledningen till detta är att friktionen mellan de båda rättigheterna har ökat väsentligt. Närmare bestämt har omfattningen av det upphovsrättsliga skyddet utökats på både bredden och djupet på senare tid, samtidigt som framväxten av ny nätbaserad teknologi har gjort det vanligare att personer utövar sin yttrandefrihet på ett sätt som involverar material skyddat av upphovsrätt. Det går därför att sluta sig till uppfattningen att gränssnittet mellan upphovsrätt och yttrandefrihet de jure innefattar en potentiell konflikt, vilken de facto påverkar en bred krets av personer.

Mot den bakgrunden blir nästa fråga som behandlas i uppsatsen särskilt intressant, nämligen huruvida konstitutionella bestämmelser om yttrandefrihet kan åberopas som ett ”externt” försvarsargument i rättsprocesser där den omstridda handlingen inte kan subsumeras under något av de undantag som återfinns ”internt” inom upphovsrätten. Utredningen ger vid handen att svenska domstolar hittills av olika anledningar har avstått från att tillämpa sådana lösningar. Men framställningen visar samtidigt att den direkta tillämpligheten i nationella domstolar av internationella och överstatliga instrument till säkerställande av grundläggande fri-och rättigheter kan ha förändrat rättsläget något.

Intressant nog har inte bara inkorporeringen av den Europeiska konventionen om skydd för de mänskliga rättigheterna och de grundläggande friheterna (ECHR) utan också ikraftträdandet av den juridiskt bindande Europeiska unionens stadga om de grundläggande rättigheterna (EU Charter) kastat nytt ljus på den aktuella problematiken. I den utsträckning en konflikt mellan upphovsrätt och yttrandefrihet faller inom ramen för EU-rätten hamnar nämligen frågan huruvida en lösning kan ske genom tillämpning av fundamentala rättigheter i ett annat läge. Problematiken gäller då inte endast huruvida nationella grundlagsregler ska låtas påverka tillämpningen av inhemsk lag av lägre rang, utan också om en domstol ska föranledas att pröva förenligheten mellan unionens primär- och sekundärrätt. Noterbart är därför att Europeiska unionens domstol (ECJ) i tre färska avgöranden har fastslagit att det åligger nationella domstolar att åstadkomma en skälig avvägning mellan intresset av att skydda upphovsrätt och intresset av att skydda andra rättigheter upptagna i EU-stadgan, såsom rätten till yttrandefrihet, när de tillämpar nationella bestämmelser som härrör ur EU-rättsliga direktiv. Dessa tre avgöranden analyseras grundligt i uppsatsen.

För det tredje utreds vilka konsekvenser tillämpningen av konstitutionella rättigheter i mål om upphovsrättsintrång medför. Flera argument till stöd för en ökad tillämpning framförs. Samtidigt framhålls att sådana externa lösningar är förenade med vissa negativa konsekvenser och att det konstitutionella verktyget därför bör användas med försiktighet. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Henningsson, David LU
supervisor
organization
course
JURM02 20122
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Human Rights, EU Law, Civil Law, Intellectual Property Law, Civil Procedural Law
language
English
id
3358162
date added to LUP
2013-03-22 18:08:57
date last changed
2017-01-27 15:52:33
@misc{3358162,
  abstract     = {Copyright and the right to freedom of expression both constitute fundamental rights in the European Union (EU) and should be protected accordingly. But what is the closer relationship, de jure and de facto, between these two legal regimes in the information society? This is one of three questions examined in this thesis. The presentation gives at hand that, traditionally, the notion has been that copyright accommodates or even promotes freedom of expression and that the two rights are compatible. However, it is also demonstrated that the two rights inherit a built-in legal conflict and that copyright inevitably imposes a restriction on freedom of expression. 

It is illustrated that the conflict-oriented perspective has gained a great deal of attention recently as the friction between the two regimes has increased significantly. More specifically, the scope of copyright protection has become wider and stronger in recent time, while, at the same time, new web technology has made it much more common that people exercise their right to freedom of expression and information in a way that involves material protected by copyright. It is therefore concluded that the intersection between copyright and freedom of expression presents a potential de jure conflict, which de facto concerns a broad circle of people.

The second question addressed in this thesis is therefore one of enhanced significance, namely whether the constitutional right to freedom of expression can be successfully invoked as an “external” defense argument in a case where the contested action cannot be subsumed under any of the exemptions existing “internally” within copyright law. The presentation gives at hand that, thus far, Swedish courts have for various reasons abstained from applying such solutions. However, the direct applicability of international and supranational human rights instruments in domestic courts may have altered the legal situation. 

Interestingly, not only the incorporation into national law of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) but also the enactment of a legally binding Charter of Fundamental Rights for the European Union (EU Charter) sheds new light on the issues at hand. To the extent clashes between copyright and freedom of expression occur within the scope of EU law, the question of whether a conflict can be solved by application of fundamental rights is no longer only a matter of whether higher-ranking national constitutional provisions should affect the application of domestic copyright rules, but also a question of whether a judicial review on the conformity of EU secondary law with EU primary law should be undertaken. It is therefore worth noting that the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) in three recent landmark cases has held that national courts are required to strike a fair balance between the protection of copyright and the protection of other rights enshrined in the EU Charter, such as the right to freedom of expression, when applying national provisions stemming from EU Copyright Directives. These cases are thoroughly analyzed in this thesis. 

Thirdly, some consequences associated with the application of constitutional rights in copyright infringement cases are outlined. Arguments are presented as for why an increased application should be welcomed. However, it is simultaneously recognized that, for various reasons, the constitutional tool should be applied with caution.},
  author       = {Henningsson, David},
  keyword      = {Human Rights,EU Law,Civil Law,Intellectual Property Law,Civil Procedural Law},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Copyright and Freedom of Expression in Sweden and the European Union - The Conflict Between Two Fundamental Rights in the Information Society},
  year         = {2012},
}