Equal treatment as a principle to guide the regulation of intangibly transferred content : a case study on e-books using the examples of copyright exhaustion, reduced rates of VAT and fixed book pricing
Title: Equal treatment as a principle to guide the regulation of intangibly transferred content : a case study on e-books using the examples of copyright exhaustion, reduced rates of VAT and fixed book pricing
Author: LINKLATER, Emma
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2015
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of Law
Using e-books as a case study, this thesis considers whether the principle of equal treatment could play a role in driving more consistent and rational regulation of markets where content is available in both tangible and intangible formats. At present, although the content is the same, these formats are often subject to different rules. This difference in treatment has opened up discussions about whether current legal frameworks should be amended and in these discussions actors with very different standpoints have consistently invoked the language of equality to justify their varied stances. However, in these discussions there is no clear elaboration of what equality means or how it can be used, leading to abstract debates and eventually to arbitrary decisions. The thesis attempts to fill this gap by building a framework based on outcome equality to decide if intangible book formats should be treated ‘like’ tangible ones. It uses the objective underlying the existing rule as the standard for establishing likeness or difference and advocates that functional equality, rather than formal equality, is desirable because this takes account of the differences in the functionalities between content formats: Intangibility impacts on the functioning of the rule in question (e.g. quantitatively increased ease of circulation and copying) and it is only if these impacts can be neutralized that functional equality can be achieved. The framework is applied to the case studies of copyright exhaustion, reduced rates of VAT and fixed book pricing. These have been chosen in recognition of the range of decision-making powers between the national and EU levels in this cultural sector. Overall, the analysis shows that rationality can be inserted by using equal treatment as a guide, but that consistency is more difficult to achieve given the interaction between national and EU influences in the book market.
Defence date: 13 November 2015; Examining Board: Prof. Giorgio Monti, EUI (EUI Supervisor); Prof. Dr Giovanni Sartor, EUI; Doc. JUDr. Radim Polcák, Faculty of Law, Masaryk University; Prof. Dr. Andreas Wiebe, University of Göttingen, Germany
Type of Access: embargoedAccess