Institute of Brand and Innovation Law


The exceptional mismatch of copyright teaching exceptions in the post-pandemic university

By Dr Alina Trapova, Co-director of the Institute of Brand and Innovation Law

Journal cover for JIPITEC

30 June 2023

Publication details

Alina Trapova, 'The exceptional mismatch of copyright teaching exceptions in the post-pandemic university – insights from Germany, Bulgaria, and Ireland' (2023) 14(2) Journal of Intellectual Property, Information Technology and E-Commerce Law 307.

This article features in a special issue of JIPITEC entitled "The Law and the Digital Classroom" which was published in June 2023.


Use of teaching materials have always been an integral part of education, and much of this material is protected by copyright. While traditionally such materials were reproduced and distributed as physical copies or were accessed by learners in libraries, the provision of teaching matter was already shifting to digital spaces. However, it was the Covid pandemic, with the temporary closure of many educational establishments and libraries, that digital access to education materials became the norm, which in turn brought certain copyright problems to light. At the EU level, new rules intending to facilitate access to digital teaching material were contained in the Copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market (“CDSM") Directive which was adopted in 2019, and which Member States were required to implement into national law by June 2021. This Directive contained new provisions, covering digital and cross-border teaching activities, which were intended to close a perceived gap left by the existing copyright exceptions of the InfoSoc Directive of 2001.

Despite CDSM seeking to remedy the legal uncertainty surrounding the use of works and other protected subject matter for modern educational practices, this article explains why the Directive has not only failed to achieve its goal, but has created additional legal uncertainty. Looking at the implementation of these provisions in Germany, Bulgaria and Ireland, this paper demonstrates how substantive and systemic issues have (once again) led to a mismatch between EU promises of a harmonised internal market in the context of copyright exceptions and the rather messy legal reality for educational establishments and their teaching staff.

More information

You can access a copy of Dr Trapova's article here.