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Copyright provides the rightsholder of a copyright protected work a set of exclusive rights. These include, but are not limited to, making the work available to the public and reproducing that work. The rights granted under copyright are not absolute, they are to be balanced against public interest objectives such as access to culture and information. In the European Union these public interest objectives (or user rights) are safeguarded by a set of exceptions and limitations to the exclusive rights of authors and other rightsholders.

Copyright exists independently in each jurisdiction on the basis of national legislation. Within the EU the exclusive rights of creators and other rightsholders have been largely harmonised across the 28 member states. The same does not apply for users rights: the exceptions and limitations to copyright.

The European Union Directive 2001/29/EC (InfoSoc Directive) provides a list of 21 exceptions and limitations to copyright (art. 5) that members states can implement in their national copyright systems. Of these only one is mandatory while the other 20 are optional for member states to implement. This has created a situation where user rights across Europe are a patchwork. Additionally, the European Union Directive 2012/28/EU EC (Orphan Works Directive) adds an exception that permits uses of works where the rightsholder can no longer be identified or located. This exception is mandatory for all member states.

While over the years a number of studies have been undertaken to provide an insight into the state of implementation of these exceptions, up until now there has been no easily accessible, up-to-date information resource which documents these implementations for all EU member states. collects information related to the national implementation of all 22 exceptions and limitations in the 28 member states of the European Union.

Methodology collects and indexes the implementations of the exceptions and limitations of the InfoSoc and Orphan Works Directives across EU member states. The presented data relies on earlier studies (Westkamp 2007 & Google internal report 2015) which Kennisland has collected, compared and augmented. We have added basic information on the implementation of the Orphan Works Directive through N-Lex index of the implementation of the Directive. As laws are continuously being updated we cannot claim that this resource is always up to date. We actively invite networks of national experts to continuously comment and provide feedback on our datasets.

Per exception and jurisdiction we gather information about whether an exception is implemented (Yes, No, or Partly Implemented) and whether the exception requires remuneration. If an exception is implemented, we further collect data like article numbers for the local acts, links to these acts, and any remarks contributed by the local experts.

At the launch of we have actively contacted over 80 legal experts across Europe in the period of June 2016 until September 2016. These legal experts provided reviews of our dataset and validated it for a certain jurisdiction or topic. We aim to have every country reviewed by at least two national experts, but at the moment we are not quite there yet. We have 19 countries countries reviewed at least once, of which four have been reviewed by at least two reviewers.


The data collected for Copyright Exceptions is available as a spreadsheet on GitHub, a version-managed source code system. The data is dedicated to the public domain using Creative Commons Zero (CC0). is a project by Kennisland and is supported by a grant from the Information Program of the Open Society Foundations. For more information contact Kennisland. All texts and data presented on this website are dedicated to the public domain using Creative Commons Zero.

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