Civil Liberties: The European Court of Human Rights has declared that the copyright monopoly stands in direct conflict with fundamental Human Rights, as defined in the European Union and elsewhere. This means that as of today, nobody sharing culture in the EU may be convicted just for breaking the copyright monopoly law; the bar for convicting was raised considerably. This can be expected to have far-reaching implications, not just judicially, but in confirming that the copyright monopoly stands at odds with human rights.
The European Court of Human Rights in Luxembourg is no dismissible small player. It is the court that oversees the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which is part of the Constitution of the European Union and of most (if not all) European states. When this court makes a decision, that decision gets constitutional status in all of Europe (except for Belarus, which is not a signatory).
Therefore, the copyright monopoly as such – which is ordinary law in European states – was just defined as taking a back seat to the constitutional right to share and seek culture and knowledge, as defined in the European Convention on Human Rights, article 10:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.” (ECHR 10)
We have long claimed that the copyright monopoly stands in direct conflict with civil liberties (one of my most well-known keynotes, Copyright regime vs. civil liberties, even highlights this in the title). While the judiciary is slow to react to new phenomena, and issues like this percolate very slowly to the top courts where verdicts make a reak difference, I’m very happy to see that the issue did indeed get to the relevant court at last, and that the Court made the only reasonable decision.