Title: Digital Property Rights after the TomKabinet Decision of the CJEU: the Road to Digital Serfdom?
Date: Wednesday 27 January 2021
The Department of Information Policy and Governance within the Faculty of Media and Knowledge Sciences, is hosting the next MAKS Research Seminar, entitled Digital Property Rights after the TomKabinet Decision of the CJEU: the Road to Digital Serfdom?
The speaker is Dr Ioannis Revolidis
12:15 Digital Property Rights after the TomKabinet Decision of the CJEU: the Road to Digital Serfdom?
13:15 Short Break
13:30 Informal Discussion
During the last days of 2019, a major development took place in EU digital law, even if it has been overshadowed by the more pressing developments created by the outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic that happened at the same time. The CJEU has been confronted, in the context of the TomKabinet case, with a fundamental question that has been looming in the background of EU digital law since its conception: can there be property rights in digital goods? Do European citizens hold the same legal powers on their digital assets as they do with their tangible goods? If not, what does the future hold for property rights and all the subsequent freedoms that are dependent upon them?
This is not a mere technical question of copyright or civil law. It is rather a question of fundamental freedoms, of fundamental values and of fundamental power structures. Europe moves rapidly and decisively towards a digital future. A future where the platform economy, propelled by user generated content, big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence aims to transform societies in an unprecedented way. Such societal changes bring about, above all, major power shifts. They are changes of the kind that unroot the old order and everything that has been supporting it (legally, economically, and politically) and establish (in fact, impose) a new socio-economic reality, where, more often than not, the privileged of the previous status quo crumble and fall. In that context, the transcendence of Europe out of its industrially dominated past to a new intangible reality, renders the acquisition and control of physical goods, legally, economically, and politically obsolete. Information becomes the dominant asset and in doing so it makes one wonder: who controls information? This appears to be a mere legal technicality, but it echoes another, more complicated and more critical question: who controls the future?
Viewed from that lens, the CJEU decision in the TomKabinet case is much more than an evolution of EU copyright law. On the contrary. It signals, even with some delay, the societal change that has been brewing for the past, at least, two decades within the EU, namely the irreversible transition from the brick-and-mortar society to the informational society. For all its importance, however, the decision of the CJEU does not answer but merely sets the inescapable question that follows: at the expense of whom shall this transition take place?
To illustrate this ongoing power struggle within the EU, using the TomKabinet ruling of the CJEU as an underlying example, will be the main goal of this presentation.
Dr Ioannis Revolidis, LL.M. was born in Drama, Greece. He studied Law at the Law Faculty of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. He graduated with summa cum laude in 2008. In 2011 he obtained his Masters degree in Civil, Civil Procedural and Labour Law with an LL.M. thesis on Illegally obtained digital evidence in civil procedure. Between 2013 and 2019 he has been a senior research associate at the Institute for Legal Informatics, Law Faculty, Leibniz Universität, Hannover, where he conducted research in European IT Law (data protection, e-commerce, intellectual property and private international law); during his time in Hannover he participated as an active researcher in EU-funded research projects (mostly related to data protection compliance within the medical industry), coordinated the INSITU summer-school in EU IT and IP Law as well as the EULISP Masters in EU IT and IP Law, participated in edited books on EU digital and private international law, published scholarly papers in the aforementioned fields of law, undertook the teaching of relevant classes (EU e-commerce law, EU Data Protection Law, EU Intellectual Property Law and EU Private International Law) and presented papers in relevant conferences, as well as guest lectures (he has lectured, among others, at the Norwegian Research Centre for Computers and Law and at the Queen Mary University of London).
In 2019 he obtained his Doctoral Title with a PhD thesis on International Jurisdiction and the Internet. During his PhD research he has been awarded a scholarship by the Onassis Foundation. His PhD thesis unanimously received the grade “summa cum laude” from the examining committee. From June 2020 he is a Resident Academic Lecturer at the Department of Information Policy and Governance, Faculty of Media & Knowledge Sciences, of the University of Malta, headed by Professor Joseph Cannataci.
Apart from his academic endeavours, Dr. Ioannis Revolidis is a practising lawyer, registered at the Bar Association of Thessaloniki. Since November 2019, the Bar Association of Thessaloniki has entrusted him with the permanent column of civil procedural law of its native “Armenopoulos” legal journal, one of the oldest and most prominent in the country. He litigates civil and commercial law cases, with specific emphasis on cases with foreign and digital elements. He is also a certified Data Protection Officer and in this capacity he oversees cases of GDPR corporate compliance. EU intellectual Property, EU Data privacy and data protection, as well as EU Civil and Civil Procedural law form the basis of his research interests.