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Consumers’ FAQs on copyright: allowed scope of private copying

There has been published a very useful guide for consumers and for anyone who is curious about copyright. This guide explains different things, relating to IP rights, in simple way. The project has been commissioned by the European Union intellectual property office.

The Guide aims to give ‘answers to the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) average consumers have in relation to copyright for all twenty-eight EU Member States.’ The present Summary Report highlights the convergences and differences in national copyright laws in relation to the 15 consumer questions.

Exclusive rights do not give rights holders absolute control over each and every copy made of their work. Notably, most jurisdictions allow private copying if a certain number of conditions are fulfilled. However, the scope of the exception and the understanding of what qualifies as ‘private’ vary.

A consumer may not give a copy that he or she has made of a protected work to a family member or friend in Bulgaria, Ireland, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal (unless if the family member or friend does not have the necessary means of reproduction), Spain and in the United Kingdom. In Italy, Spain or the Netherlands, for example, private copies are permissible only for personal, non-commercial use, if the source copy is lawful.

A consumer may give a copy that he or she has made of a protected work to a family member or friend in Belgium (family member only, except if the friend lives with the family), the Czech Republic (although there is no case-law), Denmark (digital copies may be made for personal use of the person making the copy himself or herself, or the household but not for anyone else; analogue copies may also be made for close family members, good friends and colleagues), Germany (family member or a friend with whom the consumer has personal ties), Greece (narrow circle of family and the immediate social circle), Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Austria, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Finland and Sweden.