Digital Single Market Copyright Directive: Making (Digital) Room for Works of Visual Art in the Public Domain

Authors: Marta Arisi


Establishing that Member States shall provide that any material resulting from an act of reproduction of works of visual art in the public domain is not subject to copyright or related rights, unless the material is original, art. 14 of the Digital Single Market Copyright Directive aims to promote the wider access and circulation of cultural contents. The realization of its objective in the digital and cross-border dimension is ambitious, as it requires extensive harmonization. This proves difficult not only because of some ambiguities that characterize the norm and primarily, amongst those, the absence of a definition of works of visual art, but most of all for the complex juridical scenario evoked: art. 14 stands at the interplay of the Copyright law and, possibly, other norms belonging to different domains, depending on the peculiarities of each Member State. While affirming that art. 14 shall be welcomed as a needed, if not definitive, passage towards further legal certainty, this contribution tries to give account of the present challenges, with special focus on related rights in photographs and analysing the German and Italian on-going transposition efforts.

Keywords: Art. 14 Digital Single Market Copyright Directive – Public domain – Reproduction – Works of visual art