On Author, Copyright and Originality: Does the Unified EU Originality Standard Correspond to the Digital Reality in Wikipedia?

Aurelija Lukoševičienė


This article is contributing to the future of copyright law debate by exploring the recently harmonised originality standard in the EU copyright law and its suitability to a creative sharing community of Wikipedia. It shows that the “free creative choices” and “author’s personal” touch criteria established by the CJEU might be unsuitable not only because of practical concerns, but also because the understanding of “author” they are based on does not match the understanding possessed by Wikipedia community. The concepts of author (or rather author and Wikipedian) are compared through three key elements: author’s relationship with work, author’s relationship with others and presumptions about author’s personality and creative process.


Copyright Law, Concept of Author, Originality, Wikipedia

Full Text:


Show references Hide references

[1] (2017) Help: Introduction to Policies and Guidelines/2. [online] Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:Introduction_to_policies_and_guidelines/2 [Accessed 10 February 2017].

[2] (2017) Help: Minor edit. [online] Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:Minor_edit [Accessed 10 February 2017].

[3] (2017) Wikipedia [online] Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia [Accessed 10 February 2017].

[4] (2017) Wikipedia: About. [online] Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:About [Accessed 10 February 2017].

[5] (2017) Wikipedia: Arbitration Committee. [online] Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Arbitration_Committee [Accessed 10 February 2017].

[6] (2017) Wikipedia: Assume Good Faith. [online] Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Assume_good_faith [Accessed 10 February 2017].

[7] (2017) Wikipedia: Assume the Assumption of Good Faith. [online] Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Assume_the_assumption_of_good_faith [Accessed 10 February 2017].

[8] (2017) Wikipedia: Authors of Wikipedia. [online] Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Authors_of_Wikipedia [Accessed 10 February 2017].

[9] (2017) Wikipedia: Barnstars. [online] Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Barnstars [Accessed 10 February 2017].

[10] (2017) Wikipedia: Copyrights. [online] Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Copyrights [Accessed 10 February 2017].

[11] (2017) Wikipedia: Dispute Resolution. [online] Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Dispute_resolution [Accessed 10 February 2017].

[12] (2017) Wikipedia: Five Pillars. [online] Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Five_pillars [Accessed 10 February 2017].

[13] (2017) Wikipedia: Guide to requests for adminship. [online] Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Guide_to_requests_for_adminship [Accessed 10 February 2017].

[14] (2017) Wikipedia: Neutral Point of View. [online] Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Neutral_point_of_view [Accessed 10 February 2017].

[15] (2017) Wikipedia: Reusing Wikipedia Content. [online] Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reusing_Wikipedia_content [Accessed 10February 2017].

[16] (2017) Wikipedia: Statistics. [online] Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Statistics [Accessed 10 February 2017].

[16] (2017) Wikipedia: Wikipedians. [online] Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedians [Accessed 10 February 2017].

[17] (2017) Wikipedia: Who writes Wikipedia?. [online] Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Who_writes_Wikipedia%3F [Accessed 10 February 2017].

[18] Barthes, R. (1967) The Death of the Author. Aspen, 5–6.

[19] Bezpečnostní softwarová asociace – Svaz softwarové ochrany v. Ministerstvo kultury. (2010) Case no. C-393/09. Court of Justice of the European Union, ECR I-13971.

[20] Bruns, A. (2006) Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond. From Production to Produsage, New York: Peter Lang.

[21] Cardon, D. (2012) Discipline but not Punish: The governance of Wikipedia. In: Massit-Follea, F., Meadel, C., Monnoyer-Smith, L. (eds.) Normative Experience in Internet Politics. Paris: Presses Des Mines.

[22] Chon, M. (2012) The Romantic Collective Author. Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law, 14 (4).

[23] Creative Commons: Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0). [online] Available from:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en [Accessed10 February 2017].

[24] Deci, E. L., Ryan, R. M. (1985) Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Human Behaviour, New York: Springer.

[25] Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the Harmonisation of Certain Aspects of Copyright and Related Rights in the Information Society, Official Journal of European Union (L 167/10) 22 June.

[26] Dusollier, S. (2003) Open Source and Copyleft: Authorship Reconsidered. Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts, 26 (3).

[27] Erickson, K. (2014) User illusion: ideological construction of ‘user-generated content’ in the EC consultation on copyright. Internet Policy Review, 3 (4).

[28] Eva Maria Painer v. Standard Verlags GmbH and others. (2011) [unreported] Case no. C 145/10. Court of Justice of the European Union, 7 March.

[29] Foucault, M. (1979) What is an Author? Screen, 20 (1).

[30] Football Association Premier League Ltd, NetMed Hellas SA, Multichoice Hellas SA v. QC Leisure, David Richardson, AV Station plc, Malcolm Chamberlain, Michael Madden, SR Leisure Ltd, Philip George Charles Houghton, Derek Owen, and Karen Murphy v. Media Protection Services Ltd. (2011) Joined cases nos. C-403/08 and C-429/08. Court of Justice of the European Union, ECR I-10909.

[31] Football Dataco Ltd, Football Association Premier League Ltd, Football League Ltd, Scottish Premier League Ltd, Scottish Football League, PA Sport UK Ltd v. Yahoo! UK Ltd, Stan James (Abingdon) Ltd, Stan James plc, Enetpulse ApS. (2012) [unreported] Case no. C-604/10. Court of Justice of the European Union, 1 March.

[32] Heaberlin, B., DeDeo, S. (2015) The Evolution of Wikipedia's Norm Network. Future Internet, 8 (2).

[33] Halatchliyski, I., Moskaliuk, J., Joachim, K., Cress, U. (2014) Explaining authors' contribution to pivotal artefacts during mass collaboration in the Wikipedia's knowledge base. Computer Supported Cooperative Learning, 9 (1).

[34] Halbert, D. (2014) The State of Copyright: the Complex Relationships of Cultural Creation in a Globalised World, New York: Routledge.

[35] Infopaq International A/S v. Danske Dagblades Forening (2009) Case no. C-5/08. Court of Justice of the European Union, ECR I-06569.

[36] Jaszi, P. (1994) On the Author effect: Contemporary Copyright and Collective Creativity. In: Woodmansee, M., Jaszi, P. (eds.) The Construction of Authorship. Textual Appropriation in Law and Literature. Durham: Duke University Press.

[37] Joyce, E., Pike, J. C., Butler, B. S. (2012) Rules and Roles vs. Consensus: Self-Governed Deliberative Mass Collaboration Bureaucracies. American Behavioral Scientist, 57 (5).

[38] Kawashima, N. (2010) The rise of 'user creativity' – Web 2.0 and a new challenge for copyright law and cultural policy. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 16 (3).

[39] Kwall, R. R. (2010) The Soul of Creativity. Forging Moral Rights Law for the United States. Standford: Standford Law Books.

[40] Laat, P. B. (2012) Coercion or empowerment? Moderation of content in Wikipedia as 'essentially contested' bureaucratic rules. Ethics and Information Technology, 14 (2).

[41] Lai, C.-Y., Yang, H.-L. (2014) The reasons why people continue editing Wikipedia content – task value confirmation perspective. Behaviour & Information Technology, 33 (12).

[42] Lavik, E. (2014) Romantic authorship in copyright law and the uses of esthetics. In: van Eechoud, M. (ed.) The Work of Authorship. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

[43] Lavik, E., van Gompel, S. (2013) On the Prospects of Raising the Originality Requirement in Copyright Law: Perspectives from the Humanities. Journal, Copyright Society of the U.S.A., 60 (3).

[44] Nov, O. (2007) What Motivates Wikipedians. Communications of the ACM, 50 (11).

[45] Oreg, S., Nov, O. (2008) Exploring motivations for contributing to open source initiatives: The roles of contribution context and personalvalues.Computersin HumanBehavior,24 (5).

[46] Parasarnphanich, P., Wagner, C. (2011) Explaining the Sustainability of Digital Ecosystems based on the Wiki Model Through Critical-Mass Theory. IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics, 58 (6).

[47] Peifer, K.-N. (2014) “Individualität” or Originality? Core concepts in German copyright law. GRUR Int., 63 (12).

[48] Pentzold, C. (2010) Imagining the Wikipedia community: What do Wikipedia authors mean when they write about their 'community'. New Media & Society, 13 (5).

[49] Phillips, J. (2009) Authorship, ownership, wikiship: copyright in the 21st century. In: Derclaye, E. (ed.) Research Handbook on the Future of EU Copyright. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

[50] Preece, W. E. and Collison, E. L. (2016) Encyclopaedia: Reference Work [online] Available from: https://global.britannica.com/topic/encyclopaedia [Accessed 10 February 2017].

[51] Quaedvlieg, A. (2014) The tripod of originality and the concept of work in Dutch and European copyright. GRUR Int., 63 (12).

[52] Reagle, J. M. J. (2010) Good Faith Collaboration. The Culture of Wikipedia. Cambridge: MIT Press.

[53] Rosati, E. (2013) Originality in EU Copyright. Full Harmonization through Case Law, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

[54] Ryan, R. M., Deci, E. L. (2000) Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations: Classic Definitions and New Directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25 (1).

[55] Samuelson, P. (2003–2004) Should Economics Play a Role in Copyright Law and Policy? University of Ottawa Law & Technology Journal, 1 (2).

[56] Sundin, O. (2010) Janitors of Knowledge: constructing knowledge in the everyday life of Wikipedia editors. Journal of Documentation, 67 (5).

[57] Torremans, P. (2007) Legal Issues Pertaining to the restoration and reconstitution of manuscripts, sheet music, paintings and films for marketing purposes. In: Torremans, P. (ed.) Copyright Law. A Handbook for Contemporary Research. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

[58] Van Gompel, S. (2014) Creativity, autonomy and personal touch. A critical appraisal of the CJEU's originality test for copyright. In: van Eechoud, M. (ed.) The Work of Authorship. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

[59] Van Gompel, S., Lavik, E. (2013) Quality, Merit, Aesthetics and Purpose: An Inquiry Into EU Copyright Law's Eschewal of other Criteria than Originality. Revue Internationale du Droit d’Auteur (RIDA), 236.

[60] Viegas, F. B., Wattenberg, M., Dave, K. (2004) Studying Cooperation and Conflict between Authors with history flow Visualisations. CHI '04 Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 575–582.

[61] Wielsch, D. (2010) Governance of Massive Multiauthor Collaboration. Linux, Wikipedia, and Other Networks: Governed by Bilateral Contracts, Partnerships, or Something in Between? JIPITEC, 1 (2).

[62] Xu, B., Li, D. (2015) An empirical study of the motivations for content contribution and community participation in Wikipedia. Information & Management, 52 (3).

[63] Yang, H.-L., Lai, C.-Y. (2010) Motivations of Wikipedia Content Contributors. Computers in Human Behavior, 26 (6).

[64] Ye, Y., Kishida, K. (2003) Toward an Understanding of the Motivation of Open Source Software developers. ICSE '03 Proceedings of the 25th International Conference on Software Engineering, pp. 419–429.

[65] Zemer, L. (2007) The Idea of Authorship in copyright. Adershot: Ashgate.

[66] Zhu, C. W. (2014) A regime of droit moral detached from software copyright? – the undeath of the 'author' in free and open source software licensing. International Journal of Law and Information Technology, 22 (4).


Copyright (c) 2017 Masaryk University Journal of Law and Technology