Opinion AG CJEU: no copyright protection for a simple military report

Print this page 26-10-2018

Copyright. Case C-469/17 Funke Medien NRW GmbH v Federal Republic of Germany. Opinion Szpunar.


From the press release: " According to Advocate General Szpunar, a simple military report cannot enjoy copyright protection. First, such a report does not satisfy the requirements in order to be treated as a work eligible for copyright protection and, second, such protection would constitute an unjustified limitation on freedom of expression.




The Advocate General doubts that such reports can be classified as works eligible for copyright protection. He notes in particular that these are purely informative documents, drafted in absolutely neutral and standardised terms, providing an accurate report of events or stating that no events of interest have occurred. Such ‘raw’ information, that is to say, information presented in an unaltered state, is excluded from copyright, which protects only the manner in which ideas have been articulated in a work. Ideas (including raw information) themselves can therefore be freely
reproduced and shared.


Ultimately, it is for the national courts to assess whether the present case concerns ‘works’ within the meaning of the law on copyright. As that factual assessment has not yet been carried out, the Advocate General takes the view that the questions submitted to the Court are inadmissible on the
ground that they are hypothetical in character.

In case the Court does not accept that proposal, the Advocate General examines further the question whether a Member State can rely on its copyright over documents such as those at issue in order to curtail freedom of expression. In his opinion, the answer to that question should be in the negative




Although the State is entitled to benefit from the civil right of ownership, such as the right to intellectual property, it cannot rely on the fundamental right to property as a means of restricting another fundamental right such as freedom of expression. The State is not a beneficiary of fundamental rights, but is rather under an obligation to safeguard fundamental rights.

Furthermore, it does not appear necessary to protect military reports by way of copyright."


Read the press release here.