Copyright in electronic education

We participated in international conference “Online Educa Berlin 2016”, where we presented our view on the issue of legal uncertainty in the area of digital teaching activities (title of the lecture: “Legal uncertainty in e-learning environments”). Main points of the presentation revolved around an increasing uncertainty regarding use of digital content in the process of learning through Internet, especially potential liability of teachers for created content, as well as web administrators for its hosting.
Particular emphasis was put on the recent ruling of the European Court of Justice in the case of GS Media BV v Sanoma Media Netherlands BV (C-160/15), in which the court held that liability can arise out of mere redirecting (through links) to the content published on the Internet by the third parties, provided it was done as a result of copyright infringement. We also presented our proposal for reform of the EU copyright law, which introduces the compulsory rules regarding fair use of digital content for the e-learning processes. Under current regulation these issues are not clearly outlined, which is confirmed in the new Proposal for directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market (rec. 14):

  • The scope of those exceptions or limitations as they apply to digital uses is unclear. In addition, there is a lack of clarity as to whether those exceptions or limitations would apply where teaching is provided online and thereby at a distance.
  • Moreover, the existing framework does not provide for a cross-border effect. This situation may hamper the development of digitally-supported teaching activities and distance learning. Therefore, the introduction of a new mandatory exception or limitation is necessary to ensure that educational establishments benefit from full legal certainty when using works or other subject-matter in digital teaching activities, including online and across borders.”