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Good news on copyright, but bad news on protection for sources

Some great news from Brussels on the attempt to extend copyright terms, again:

“Copyright term extension was dealt another serious blow last week when COREPER, the European Committee representing EU member states and the Council of Ministers, voted against the proposal. In a surprise move the UK government joined others in a blocking minority, rejecting a compromise deal that would have delivered minimal benefits to performers. It now seems increasingly unlikely that a deal on copyright extension will be reached by EU countries before the EU Parliament first reading plenary vote takes place.”

However, there’s bad news from the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled on the case of Sanoma Uitgevers B.V. v. the Netherlands, which deals with the protection of journalistic sources:

“With a 4/3 decision the Court (Third Section) is of the opinion that the order to hand over a CD-ROM with photographs in the possession of the editor in chief of a weekly magazine is in casu not a violation of Article 10 of the ECHR.”

This judgement will cast a long shadow over journalists, who will have more doubts in their minds over when sources will be legally protected. Although the court agreed there was a need to balance out the demands of law enforcement with the potential “chilling effect” of uncertainty over source protection, they seem to have erred very strongly on the side of law enforcement. This is a bad thing in general, and will pose some interesting problems for journalists and others.

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