Digital Revolution & Legal Evolution in Austria

Status quo of the implementation of Directive (EU) 2019/790

The implementation of Directive (EU) 2019/790 on copyright and related rights in the digital single market took place in Austria as part of the 2021 copyright amendment. The Urh-Nov (Urheberrechts-Novelle [copyright amendment]) 2021 (BGBl (Bundesgesetzblatt [Federal Law Gazette]) I 2021/244) was published on 31 December 2021 in the Federal Law Gazette and came largely into force on 1 January 2022. The Austrian legislator has thus completed the most comprehensive and complex amendment of the Austrian Copyright Act, which has led to a profound amendment of the Copyright Act. In addition to numerous topics such as the right to protect performance for press publishing as well as requirements for online platforms, among other things, exceptions to text and data mining, distance learning, the preservation of items from cultural heritage institutions and for out-of-print works, the standards under copyright contract law (reasonable remuneration, contract adjustment, revocation obligation, transparency obligation) are of broad practical importance.

National legal framework against computer piracy

Austrian legislation does not provide for a specific legal framework against computer piracy. For the protection of computer programs, the copyright (special) provisions of §§ 40a to 40e UrhG apply, according to which the Austrian legislator considers computer programs as works explicitly worthy of protection that enjoy copyright protection.

Copyright & NFT (non-fungible tokens)

In Austria, the legal disputes with non-fungible tokens have only taken place in specialist groups so far and have (yet) not emerged from any general national legislation. The theory is based on the assumption that NFT can be understood as a kind of securitisation of the protected work, a similarity between tokens and securities is affirmed, and an analogous application of the property law provisions is also advocated. In the area of national copyright, the legal issues and effects of NFT are still largely unclear. In principle, the question of whether copyright can be established for an NFT will depend on whether an NFT can be qualified as a work worthy of protection within the meaning of the UrhG. In Austria, it remains to be seen how the case law and national legislation will position itself with regard to the copyright status of NFT.