Changes in Hungarian copyright law

As of July 1, this year maybe the most fundamental amendments of Hungary’s Act LXXVI of 1999 on copyright has finally entered into force. According to the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office the new law will be able to handle questions of intellectual property in a “more equitable manner”. While the answer whether the changes will truly make the landscape of Hungarian copyright laws fairer and more equitable is firmly outside the scope of this article, a brief summary of the changes can prove useful for anyone.

First thing to note is the background of the amendment are the European Union’s CDSM and SatCab II directives. For both directives Hungary is among the first countries to transplant the EU legislations into its domestic law. For SatCab II Hungary was the very first to incorporate the directive and for CDSM the second country to do so. But what do these acronyms actually stand for?

Let’s start with CDSM, (that is the directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market), because this is the one directive of the two to garner some sort of notoriety. This was the particular EU regulation that was rumored to seriously curtail the free use of copyrighted materials online. Luckily that was never the intention of the directive, but on the contrary it even expanded the fair use cases available under Hungarian law. For the first time in Hungarian copyrighted materials are free to be modified via transformative use or parodied without the original copyright holder’s prior consent.

SatCab II is a directive laying down rules on the exercise of copyright and related rights applicable to certain online transmissions of broadcasting organizations and retransmissions of television and radio programs. The directive aims to facilitate the licensing of copyright and related rights and thereby to improve the cross-border provision and reception of content such as radio and television programs both live and on-demand, through traditional channels, such as satellite or cable, and through online services in the Internal Market. The new rules are stated to make it easier for European broadcasters to make certain programs available on their simulcasting or catch-up services online, and aim simplify the distribution of more radio and TV channels by retransmission operators.

According to the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office the amendments also provide new fair use cases texts and data mining operations, as well as provide the necessary framework for free use in remote learning situations similar to the regulations that already exist for conventional education settings. Furthermore, the new law also intends to make the rules for the monetary compensation of copyright holders more transparent and sets out rules for the liability of online forums for user generated content.

The Hungarian Intellectual Property Office stated that besides the EU directives the amendments also aim to provide solutions for some of the long-standing practical problems of copyright law in Hungary. For example, the rather archaic rules for copying works for personal use were modernized, as it is no longer a strict requirement to only allow handwritten copies of works for personal use.

To sum everything up the new rules seem to provide effective answers the ever-increasing online shift of copyrighted works and to the fact that the line between content creators and consumers continue to blur.