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am 23. November 2013


An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers

Harmonisation of European Union law: will it ever happen? Specifically, will it ever happen for copyright law? As observed by Edward Elgar, the publishers of this thought provoking book, `full harmonisation of the copyright laws of EU member states has long been a holy grail for copyright lawyers....' `The reality,' they add is that `only limited harmonization has occurred resulting from ad-hoc legislative interventions....'

Limited or not, the author Eleonora Rosati is unequivocal in seeing such harmonization as a process which in view of recent developments, will almost inevitably lead to greater harmonization in EU copyright law as time moves on. `We are on the cusp of the convergence of two great trends,' she remarks, `the pervading influence of the digital environment and the progression of European integration.' Integration of EU copyright law, if it eventually happens, will naturally pivot round the concept of `originality; originality being the basis of copyright protection and the central core of copyright.

In the UK, `originality' refers to skill, labour and effort, and is regarded as somewhat more loosely interpreted term than on the continent, at least that's what legal minds on the continent obviously think, preferring as they do a stricter definition. What is significant about Rosati's book, (which originated as a PhD thesis) is that even though originality lies at the heart of copyright law, it has never actually been subjected to such in-depth analysis as it receives here.

Meticulously and extensively footnoted ( a boon to researchers) this book explores virtually all aspects of originality in EU copyright, including insights into the way the legal understanding of this concept has changed over time and may well change further in the direction of evolving a truly harmonized EU copyright law, however feasible and/or desirable that may be. As the book focuses on case law, a very useful feature is its inclusion of a table of cases in chronological order across a range of jurisdictions worldwide. Note too, the tables of EU/EC/EEC legislation and of EU policy documents, also in chronological order

For obvious reasons, this book will have immediate appeal for copyright lawyers, especially those working cross-border in the EU. Academics, students and don't forget EU officials and policy makers areas will also find it intriguing, even visionary, for it is as much about future possibilities as it is about present realities. The publication date is cited as at 2013.
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