Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Interpretation of the Right of Quotation

At a meeting of stakeholders held at the European Parliament in May 2012, a number of participants indicated their support for the development of a memorandum of understanding between rights-holder representatives and consumers on a modern interpretation of the quotation limitation to copyright.

This draft of such a memorandum has been prepared for CI by Martin Senftleben, Professor of Intellectual Property, VU University Amsterdam; Senior Consultant, Bird & Bird, The Hague, for discussion. A future face-to-face meeting to finalise the memorandum is planned but not yet scheduled.

You can add your comments on the text to this page, where they will be taken into account in the development of the agreed version 1.0 of the memorandum. You may also download a PDF copy of the draft memorandum and Professor Senftleben's commentary.

Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Interpretation of the Right of Quotation

Version zero, September 2012

Preamble [commentary]

The Signatories,

Acknowledging the outstanding significance of the protection of copyright and related rights as an incentive for investment in the creation and dissemination of literary and artistic works,

Acknowledging the mandatory nature of the right of quotation,

Recognizing the need to carry forward and appropriately extend the right of quotation into the digital environment,

Recognizing the fundamental role of the right of quotation in safeguarding freedom of expression and freedom of information,

Recognizing the need to maintain a balance between these freedoms and the protection of copyright and related rights,

Seeking to reduce legal uncertainty as to the scope and reach of the right of quotation,

Seeking to contribute to the consistent application of the right of quotation across EU Member States,

Have agreed on the following


Concept of quotation [commentary]

  1. The term "quotation" is to be given a broad meaning, in the sense of a reference to protected material not necessarily requiring a description, comment or analysis.

Quotation purposes [commentary]

  1. Quotations are permissible for the purposes of criticism, comment and review.

  1. Quotations shall be permissible for the purpose of including pre-existing protected material in a new cultural creation, such as user-generated content.

  1. Quotations shall be permissible in the context of an announcement, such as the display of protected material to inform users about contents available on the internet.

  1. Quotations shall also be permissible for comparable purposes, in particular for safeguarding freedom of expression and freedom of information, and for scientific and educational purposes.

Categories of works [commentary]

  1. The right of quotation shall apply to all categories of literary and artistic works, and other protected subject matter.

  1. In the application of the rules governing quotations, no difference shall be made between the categories of works or other subject matter involved.

Extent of the taking [commentary]

  1. Quotations shall not be restricted to the taking of small or short portions of protected material.

  1. However, the taking shall only be permissible to the extent justified by the purpose. In ascertaining this extent, the following factors shall be taken into account:

    1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature and takes place in a professional context,

    2. the nature of the protected material,

    3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the individual protected material as a whole,

    4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the protected material.

  2. In particular, a quotation shall not be permissible if it substitutes the underlying protected material.

  1. A quotation shall not be deemed impermissible, however, because its critical content has a negative impact on the marketing of underlying protected material.

Rights and remuneration [commentary]

  1. The right of quotation constitutes a general exemption from infringement, in particular with regard to the right of reproduction and the right of communication to the public, including the right of making available on the Internet.

  1. It shall be permissible to make quotations without being obliged to pay fair compensation.

  1. However, the further dissemination of material including quotations may be subject to the payment of equitable remuneration if the revenue accruing from that dissemination, to a large extent, is due to the quoted works or other subject matter.

Requirements [commentary]

  1. Quotations are only permissible from material that has already been lawfully made available to the public.

  1. Unless this turns out to be impossible, the source, including the author's name, is to be indicated.

  1. For quotations to be permissible, it is not required that the material incorporating the quotations enjoys protection itself.

Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Interpretation of the Right of Quotation (PDF)152.83 KB

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