In 2012, Estonia decided to reform its intellectual property legal landscape. As an outcome of reform, there should be two codified acts – one for copyrights and neighbouring rights and one for industrial property.

This short article sums up some cherry-picked changes in the field of copyright law. Next TRINITI IP-Newsletter will outline the expected changes in industrial property law.

Catalogue of exclusive rights

Estonia’s catalogue for economic and moral rights is most likely the longest in the world – there are 9 moral rights and 13 economic rights. The main practical problem is that moral rights are not transferable and they partly overlap with economic rights. Numerous practical issues arise from this catalogue; therefore, an overlap of rights is being removed, the catalogues shortened, and clarity is achieved through clear regulation of how to consent to the use on one’s moral rights.

Mandatory form of copyright related agreements

The law in force demands written form for transfer of rights and lighter form-requirements for different licenses. However, the case law states that non-observance of the form requirements does not invalidate or nullify the agreement.

The draft law reverses this – if the written form requirement for transfer of rights or exclusive license is not observed, the agreement is null and void.

Free use

The first change is to make the catalogue of the free use imperative. This means, that for example the free use exception of citation cannot be circumvented by standard non-negotiated agreements. Since the law in force stipulates that the free personal use exemption only applies to “a lawfully published work”, it has been disputed whether the free reproduction right covers usage of the material of unknown source.

The draft law attempts to clarify this by adding the extension that the personal use exemption applies as long as the work does not originate from “clearly illegal source”. From legal perspective, this is a question of good faith.

That’s it?

There are more modifications for joint authorship, related rights, collective licensing, and other aspects related to regulation on copyrights.

Intellectual property