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EC reveals plans for copyright in the digital age

European Commission agrees on two-track action to ensure copyright stays “fit for purpose” in the digital economy.

The EC’s 27 commissioners have agreed on a two-track action to ensure copyright stays “fit for purpose” in the digital economy.

The decision was taken after a debate initiated by EC President José Manuel Baroso held during the Commission’s weekly meeting in Brussels yesterday (Dec 5).

The first line of action would be a structured stakeholder dialogue to be launched at the beginning of 2013 that would address six issues where “rapid progress” is needed:

  • cross-border portability of content;
  • user-generated content;
  • data and text mining;
  • private copy levies;
  • access to audiovisual works;
  • cultural heritage.

According to an EC memo, these discussions would “explore the potential and limits of innovative licensing and technological solutions in making EU copyright law and practice fit for the digital age”.

It will be jointly led by Michel Barnier, commissioner for internal market and services; Neelie Kroes, EC vice-president responsible for the digital agenda; and Androulla Vassiliou, commissioner for education, culture, multilingualism and youth.

Findings are expected to be presented to the College of Commissioners by December 2013.

Impact assessment

A second line of action, covering medium-term issues for decision-making in 2014, would include the commissioning relevant market studies, impact assessment and legal drafting work “with a view to a decision in 2014 whether to table legislative reform proposals”.

The following four issues to be addressed here are:

  1. mitigating the effects of territoriality in the internal market;
  2. agreeing appropriate levels of harmonisation, limitations and exceptions to copyright in the digital age;
  3. how best the reduce the fragmentation of the EU copyright market;
  4. how to improve the legitimacy of enforcement in the context of wider copyright reform.

Remuneration

The EC also noted that it was aiming for a “modern copyright framework” that would guarantee “effective recognition and remuneration of rights holders in order to provide sustainable incentives for creativity, cultural diversity and innovation” as well as open up “greater access and a wider choice of legal offers to end users”, and “contribute to combating illegal offers and piracy”.

In an initial reaction to the EC’s plans, Cécile Despringre, executive director of Brussels-based Society of Audiovisual Authors Cécile Despringre, said: “SAA is very pleased to see that the Commission has adopted a pragmatic approach and shunned an immediate re-opening of the 2001 copyright directive.”

“Our petition gathered 16,000 signatures by the time the Commission finished their orientation debate – a fantastic result and one we’re sure had an impact.

“We are now looking forward to participating in the stakeholder dialogue and, alongside other industry partners, ensuring that creators’ interests are really taken into account.”

The Creators’ Petition, which was launched by SAA ahead of the Commissioners’ meeting, has since attracted over 16,500 signatures, including directors Didi Danquart, Nana Neul, Jaco van Dormael, and Miguel Gomes, Adeline Monzier (on behalf of Europa Distribution), Julie Bergeron of Cannes’ Producers’ Network, and producers Jakob Claussen and Elvira Geppert.

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