Public and private use: an online private sphere in copyright?

Project Details


In copyright terms, a lot depends on whether a protected work is used in the public or private sphere: it may determine whether the author's prior consent is needed or not. Over the years, courts have given these notions an interpretation that is profoundly rooted in the analogue world. However, if the same criteria are applied in a digital, online environment, the private sphere seems to have vanished: every use then, as a rule, is "public" and therefore subject to the right holder's prior consent. This legal qualification contrasts sharply with the user's experience of an organic continuum between her offline and online behaviour. This incongruence may affect copyright's legitimacy, which entails the main questions of this proposal: Are the current notions of "public" and "private" still accurate to protect the values of copyright law, and to reconcile conflicting interests in copyright matters?
How can a "private" sphere be construed in the context of social media and an inherently public Web? Or is such "free use" per se incompatible with the author's interests? The construction and conceptualisation of an online private space can indeed be, for many reasons, a crucial endeavour.
Effective start/end date1/01/1131/12/14


  • Interdisciplinary Study of the Law
  • Meta-Law

Flemish discipline codes in use since 2023

  • Law and legal studies


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