Upcoming webinar (13 February): Flexible Copyright Exceptions – The Next Step for Europe?

This webinar brings together legal scholars from National Chengchi University (Taiwan), King’s College London and Bournemouth University (UK) and will focus on flexible copyright exceptions from the perspective of civil law jurisdictions, with a particular focus on Japan, Taiwan and Europe. Join us on 13 February 2023, 11:00-12:30 CET Register.

Photo: Duncan Cumming, CC-BY-NC: https://www.flickr.com/photos/duncan/25640557870/in/photolist-F4LyxY-o1GQar-28AQGzx-STeXCL-8hFHWd-8Eqc6w-8En2hZ-8Eqbud-8PtBw4-8PwFAL-nYEk1S-a7cGRp-9SS12E-67ao45-67anUf-74XLSp-r5c6Kv-2bvXNRH-hoAtp-8VBTUM-ceMVLA-28HRDF8-2hfD6Xo-enbt9P-V1oJJx-5TRUxX-2bvXNUZ-e2AaVR-e2rxvW-o3pQx5-67anK3-rMD9RV-8mxeRr-bkQHAq-9fauah-9favPq-rmyaVj-9fatVq-8EuhkU-9fatxJ-9f7nGn-pvZ6DC-9fatT3-gJDWW2-9f7kZ2-9favD9-6Va8Jy-9fatZh-9fatgy-9favJJ

Copyright limitations and exceptions play a defining role in supporting innovation and scientific progress. Broadly speaking, there are two approaches: One is to set broad principles which can be applied by users (and courts if necessary) in existing as well as new situations. The other is to define exceptions narrowly, only allowing users to undertake specific pre-defined tasks. 

Nowadays, we tend to  associate the civil law systems that dominate in Europe with this latter category. But in fact, traditionally, they have been characterised as codifying broad and flexible principles into law, giving courts much leeway in their interpretation. It is only over the 20th century, as copyright law has been frequently updated, and the European Union has sought to bring some unity to diverse legal traditions, that much of this openness and flexibility has been lost. Ironically, now it is sometimes even said that open norms are alien to civil law traditions.

Such an inflexible approach to law making in Europe where narrowly defined exceptions are the norm, however brings with it important and substantive issues. It is a matter of fact that copyright lawmaking cannot keep up with the pace of technological change, and therefore a lack of flexibility acts to chill innovation and scientific progress.

For example, whereas researchers and technology companies in some European countries still cannot undertake machine learning and AI lawfully because of delays to the transposition of the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive, those based in the US have been free to do so since at least 1976 thanks to the presence of a flexible exception in American copyright law known as “fair use”. 

Governments around the world are increasingly realising that open flexible exceptions are a better means for achieving economic growth and meeting their numerous public policy goals. 

Given Europe’s heritage, what scope is there to return to a more flexible, pro-innovation model today, and what lessons can we learn from elsewhere?

This webinar will look at flexible exceptions from a European perspective as well as hear about the introduction in the last fifteen years of open norms into two civil law jurisdictions in East Asia – Japan and Taiwan.


Professor Emily Hudson joined King’s College London in January 2015, having previously held academic posts at the University of Melbourne, University of Queensland and University of Oxford. She has a particular research interest in copyright law, and is the author of Drafting Copyright Exceptions: From the Law in Books to the Law in Action (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

Professor Chung-Lun Shen serves as Associate Dean and Distinguished Professor at College of Law, National Chenchi University in Taiwan. He is also  appointed as a distinguished lecturer by Taiwan Intellectual Property Court and Intellectual Property Office and  works at the Petitions and Appeals Committee of the Ministry of Economic Affairs to review patent and trademark appeals  against the administrative decisions made by the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office.  

Benjamin White is a PhD researcher at the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management focussing on copyright and Artificial Intelligence. Recently he spent 4 months on a Japan Foundation Scholarship based at Waseda University, researching the introduction of open norms into Japanese copyright law. He has spoken as an expert witness on copyright matters in the British and European parliaments, and is a member of the UK Intellectual Property Office’s Research Experts Advisory Group. 


Felix Reda is a copyright expert and founder of the strategic litigation project control © at German fundamental rights litigation NGO Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte (Society for Civil Rights). Between 2014 and 2019, Felix was a Member of the European Parliament, with a policy focus on the EU copyright directive and the regulation of online platforms. Felix is a member of Knowledge Rights 21 Policy Committee, Shuttleworth Fellow and an affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Felix holds an M.A. in political science and communications science from Mainz University, Germany.

In addition to presentations from practitioners, there will be an opportunity for Q&A so you can get answers to your own queries and concerns.

TIME: 13 February 2023, 11:00-12:30 CET