Skip to main content
European Commission logo

Upgrading digital copyright law to empower Europe’s creative industries

Art in the age of digital reproduction is under threat from inadequate contracts, piracy, generative AI and limits on access. In the EU-funded reCreating Europe project, researchers, libraries, copyright experts and other stakeholders sought ways to secure culturally diverse production of art, as well as inclusive access for consumers. The results can help Europe maintain its position as a cultural and economic powerhouse in the creative industries.

©STOATPHOTO | source: AdobeStock #271374036

PDF Basket

No article selected

Only four years have passed since the adoption of the EU’s Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. Yet new technologies such as generative AI are already presenting fresh challenges in how to protect the rights of creators while allowing the evolution of digital tools. Research is needed to help shape a new EU regulatory framework that encourages and protects digital art.

“We’re facing four key phenomena that need to be addressed,” says reCreating Europe coordinator Caterina Sganga, associate professor of Comparative Law at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Italy.

“First, we see that copyright law is having a substantial impact on a wide array of policy goals, interests, rights and freedom beyond its realm. Then, we see that its failure to meet societal needs inevitably leads to coping strategies on the sides of consumption (piracy and circumvention of copyright) and creation (technical protection measures and copyleft).”

“The third and fourth phenomena are, respectively, the important knowledge gaps relative to creative processes and consumption practices, and the low level of awareness of copyright legislation and its actual impact among stakeholders.”

A comprehensive exploration

ReCreating Europe embarked on an intricate journey to address these problems through a multifaceted analysis. To close the knowledge gap, the team: conducted a cross-national mapping of regulatory responses; developed innovative methods to measure the impact of the digital single market on the production and consumption of cultural and creative goods; and performed a legal, economic and technological mapping of all copyright protection measures.

“We wanted to focus on currently neglected phenomena,” explains Sganga. “One example is the needs of vulnerable groups in terms of access and reuse of copyright-protected works within the EU. We wanted to identify the barriers impacting their access to knowledge and cultural participation.”

Sganga notes further challenges faced by niche creative industries such as creative hubs and gentrified neighbourhoods, and so-called ‘IP negative spaces’ where protections are not routinely applied to creative outputs, such as recipes and dishes created by chefs.

Research and mapping focused on five groups of stakeholders: end users, cultural and heritage institutions, individual authors and performers, creative industries and intermediaries.

“In the case of authors and performers, for instance, we conducted a survey which offers a panoramic view of their experiences with digitisation, including interactions with publishers, platforms and aggregators. Our findings unravel the layers of contracts, market power, and the role of emerging technologies such as AI,” Sganga adds.

Whilst reCreating Europe was completed before generative AI made headlines, the project conducted, among other things, a mapping of legislative responses related to the protection of AI outputs by means of copyright. It also analysed the perceptions of authors and performers of the advent of AI.

New policy instruments

Overall, the project’s comprehensive research lays the foundation for a robust policy framework, guiding navigation through complex issues related to copyright law and intellectual property management.

The project team developed a total of five sets of comprehensive policy recommendations addressing regulatory gaps and pitfalls and covering the needs of all stakeholders involved. The recommendations are also extensively detailed in a dedicated booklet distributed to targeted policymakers.

In the case of AI, reCreating Europe delivers five key recommendations. Among them are a proposal not to introduce new protection regimes for AI outputs, a push to grant performers rights beyond the copyright status of the content performed, and the need to monitor the development of artistic, business and contractual practices.

“We hope to see our policy recommendations, which are backed by evidence from data sets, reports, interviews and survey results, used by EU and national legislators in the near future. Meanwhile, we are doing our best to leverage reCreating Europe’s momentum with a series of follow-up activities,” Sganga concludes.

PDF Basket

No article selected

Project details

Project acronym
reCreating Europe
Project number
Project coordinator: Italy
Project participants:
United Kingdom
Total cost
€ 3 087 928
EU Contribution
€ 3 087 928
Project duration

See also

More information about project reCreating Europe

All success stories