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Copyright Directive: Code revocation by developers possible?

This post is also available in: Deutsch

Software developers should be concerned about another negative consequence of the EU copyright reform. In addition to the right to information, a right of recovery is being discussed, whereby a software developer could prohibit further exploitation. This possible right under Articles 14 to 16 also concerns book authors, who could reclaim the exploitation rights to a text if a publisher withdrew the book from its range, or actors, who would have the right to be informed about every broadcast of a film in which he or she had participated.

Of course, software developers are also counted as creators and these rights would affect the code they write. According to this, the latter can probably demand information at any time without cause as to what has become of the code they have programmed, even if it is only very short, and prohibit the use of its code “if the work or other subject matter of protection is not exploited or if the regular reporting pursuant to Article 14 continuously fails to materialize”.

This risk affects enterprise software, but also computer games and the like.

Although the SPD intends to push for software developers to be removed from the catalog of rights in the ongoing trilogue negotiations between Parliament, the Commission and the Council of Ministers, exactly what will happen remains unclear. Other industries, such as the music industry, also already require exceptions. I haven’t heard anything similar from the games industry. It remains to be seen whether the SPD will really be able to oppose the planned changes to Articles 14 to 16, and whether the entire Copyright Directive, including ancillary copyright and upload filters, may be at stake. However, software developers should address the issue and check whether existing or future contracts with developers would not need to be adapted.

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.


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