Legal protection for multimedia works
The protection of multimedia presents a significant challenge for the contemporary legislator. Being one of the greatest technological developments and added-value assets in the Information Society, multimedia prevails as a phenomenon. However, law and practitioners treat multimedia as being many different products and services, rather than as a new 'work', since multimedia per se is not expressly protected under a single regime of protection. This perplexed situation necessitates clarification, as it is unclear what multimedia really is, and how it should be protected. It is therefore necessary to establish a clear picture of what multimedia entails, and identify which elements, factors and attributes distinguish it from other subject matters, and justify its treatment as a new 'work' rather than as an existing one. Through this analysis the proposed definition and scope of multimedia is firm, but flexible enough to accommodate future technological developments. The reasons for protecting multimedia are assessed, and different regimes of protection are compared bearing in mind the interests of authors and users, while ensuring that producers can also benefit from its commercial exploitation. Along these lines, copyright law is found to be more suitable amongst other regimes, calling for a comparison between multimedia and those copyright subject matters akin to its nature (compilations, computer programs, databases, films) that could justify its adequacy and applicability across the European Community, and worldwide. In the absence of a coherent and consistent copyright law solution, the sufficiency of other non-copyright law mechanisms of protection including contracts, technical devices, competition law, and a sui generis right is examined in the context of the Information Society. The lack of a consistent and adequate form of protection of multimedia worldwide, necessitates the introduction of a new scheme for protecting hybrid and creative multimedia works, once the supporting market and regulatory conditions are met. In the meantime, a series of preparatory actions should be taken by policy makers and market leaders in the context of a self-regulatory and user-friendly scheme of protection from which the developing multimedia market can benefit.