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11 June 2021
Hungary is one of the first countries in Central and Eastern Europe to fully implement the EU Copyright in the Digital Single Market (CDSM) Directive (2019/790/EU) and the EU Satellite and Cable Directive (2019/789/EU). On 6 May 2021 the so-called 'Copyright Reform Act' (Act XXXVII of 2021) was published in the Official Gazette and most of the new rules took effect on 1 June 2021.
According to the reasoning behind the Copyright Reform Act, many of the rules of the EU CDSM Directive that aim to strengthen the position of authors and performers were already an existing part of the Hungarian copyright system and so only fine-tuning was needed.
However, as well as the aforementioned fine-tuning, various institutions are being newly introduced to the Hungarian copyright system in line with the directives. The Copyright Reform Act allows cultural heritage institutions (eg, museums and libraries) to make easier use of works protected by copyright that are no longer commercially available. For example, libraries are now allowed to digitalise and make available on their websites literary works that exist only as part of their collection.
The Copyright Reform Act clarifies the responsibility of online platforms for the use of content under copyright protection uploaded on their platforms – namely, that content sharing platforms (eg, YouTube) are responsible for copyright infringement if they do not filter the content uploaded by users with their "best efforts". However, they must also ensure that they do not prevent the "free use" of copyright (eg, parodies). The Copyright Reform Act also strengthens the position of press publishers in relation to online use. By establishing a new neighbouring right, a fee must be paid to press publishers for online reproduction of news content.
In many cases, the Copyright Reform Act goes beyond the provisions of the EU CDSM Directive and renews and broadens existing obsolete rules to adapt copyright law to the modern digital environment. Most notably, the Copyright Reform Act introduces a general parody exception as a new case of fair use of copyright works, thereby giving the green light to the free creation of memes, for example. The Copyright Reform Act also relaxes the strict written form criteria for copyright licence contracts in many cases, making it easier to use the works in an online environment.
The Copyright Reform Act complies with the aims of the directives and in some cases exceeds them. The broader scope of fair-use cases serves the interests of users, while the newly regulated liability of online platforms and the new licence contract rules strengthen the position of authors.
For further information on this topic please contact Márk Kovács at Schoenherr Attorneys at Law by telephone (+36 1 8700 700) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Schoenherr Attorneys at Law website can be accessed at www.schoenherr.eu.
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