Advocate General of Court of Justice of EU says technical standards should be available free of charge in case taken jointly by Right to Know

For the past five years, a case taken by Right to Know in conjunction with information NGO Public.Resource.Org has been rumbling its way through Europe.

In it, we had sought copies of harmonised technical standards agreed by the European Committee for Standardisation (or CEN).

Specifically, we looked for standards on the safety of toys, including chemical sets and chemicals present in things like finger paint.

These are a category of standards that are produced following a mandate by the European Commission and are adopted once a reference is published in the Official Journal.

The European Commission refused access both at first and following appeal.

Today, in the latest stage of the case, Advocate General Laila Medina has published her opinion on the case.

We had argued the technical standards could not be protected by copyright because they are part of EU law, and therefore require free access.

The Court of Justice agreed.

A media statement from them said: “The Advocate General concludes that the rule of law requires access [to the standards] that is freely available without charge.”

The Advocate General said the indispensable role of the standards in implementation of EU secondary legislation and their legal effects meant they should not benefit from copyright protection.

The opinion said that even if they were protected by copyright, free access to law should take priority.

Advocate General Medina proposed that the Court of Justice should annul the original decision refusing access.

It’s important to say that the opinion is not binding on the court and the judges are now beginning their deliberations in this case.

You can read the full opinion here.