Wednesday 30 December 2009

EU: Last call for copyright comments! Consultation closing

There are only a few days left to respond to the public consultation “Content Online”, launched by the DG Internal Market of the European Commission. This consultation on audiovisual and media policy, copyright, and the Single market ends 5 January 2010.

The exercise is based on the document Creative Content in a European Digital Single Market: Challenges for the Future ─ A Reflection Document DG INFSO and DG MARKT (22 October 2009; 22 pages).

These questions are of crucial importance to citizens and consumers, as well creative artists and employees, organisations for various interests, public administrations and businesses of all sizes, as a quick look at the contents show:


1. Introduction

2. The evolution of technology and content markets
2.1. Music
2.2. Publishing
2.3. Audiovisual (Film, Video-on-Demand)
2.4. Video games

3. Recent EU level initiatives

4. The main challenges
4.1. Consumer access
4.2. Commercial users' access
4.3. Protection of rightholders

5. Possible EU actions for a Single Market for Creative Content Online
5.1. Consumer access
5.2. Commercial users’ access
5.3. Protection of rightholders

6. Conclusions

European Digital Agenda & Creative Content Online

As part of the coming European Digital Agenda, the objective of the reflection paper is the creation in Europe of a modern, pro-competitive, and consumer-friendly legal framework for a genuine Single Market for Creative Content Online, in particular by (page 3):

– creating a favourable environment in the digital world for creators and rightholders, by ensuring appropriate remuneration for their creative works, as well as for a culturally diverse European market;

– encouraging the provision of attractive legal offers to consumers with transparent pricing and terms of use, thereby facilitating users' access to a wide range of content through digital networks anywhere and at any time;

– promoting a level playing field for new business models and innovative solutions for the distribution of creative content.

The announced European Digital Agenda is in a formative phase, and the legislative programme for the next Commission is being prepared (page 3), which means that this is an important time for those who want to contribute to the agenda.

A European Copyright Law?

Among possible EU actions for a single market for creative content online (from page 14), and against the background of hopelessly fragmented markets, the Commission mentions the idea of a unified “European Copyright Law”, as a means to achieve coherence in online licensing (page 18). Here is an excerpt of the reasoning:

A Community copyright title would have instant Community-wide effect, thereby creating a single market for copyrights and related rights. It would overcome the issue that each national copyright law, though harmonised as to its substantive scope, applies only in one particular national territory. A Community copyright would enhance legal security and transparency, for right owners and users alike, and greatly reduce transaction and licensing costs. Unification of EU copyright by regulation could also restore the balance between rights and exceptions – a balance that is currently skewed by the fact that the harmonisation directives mandate basic economic rights, but merely permit certain exceptions and limitations. A regulation could provide that rights and exceptions are afforded the same degree of harmonisation.

By creating a single European copyright title, European Copyright Law would create a toolfor streamlining rights management across the Single Market, doing away with the necessity of administering a "bundle" of 27 national copyrights.

With rapidly evolving technologies and market conditions, copyright is going to be one of crucial issues in the internal market as well as for the European Union’s trade negotiations internationally.

It is important that all interested parties contribute to the improvement of the European legal and policy framework.

The copyright consultation closes on 5 January 2010.

Ralf Grahn

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