Key elements of the European Commission's (EC) proposals to promote content online have come under fire from a host of industry representatives and associations across Europe.
The strength of objections became clear as responses to a public consultation on the Commission's proposals were published.
The UK Film Council criticised the Commission's overall approach, stating that it 'fails fundamentally to address some key challenges faced by the audiovisual industries in the upcoming digital age'.
Industry objections mainly focused around proposals for Digital Rights Management systems (DRMs) and multi-territory licensing for content.
The Commission views DRMs as a key enabler for shifting content to digital and for the development of innovative business models - especially where high value content is concerned.
EC legislators have been frustrated by the lack of progress on the deployment of interoperable DRM solutions by key industry players such as content providers, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and telecoms operators.
While industry generally acknowledges the benefits of interoperability, many oppose the Commission's interventionist stance.
The EC is also advocating multi-territory licensing as a means of facilitating cross-border distribution of content online.
The UK Film Council criticised the Commission's recommendations on DRMs, stating that firstly, the market should decide, and secondly, that if state intervention is required, it is best left at member state level. It also dismissed the approach to multi-territory licensing as 'founded on a weak evidence base'.
Further criticism came from the Motion Picture Association Europe (MPA Europe), which argued against the interventionist approach to DRMs. The organisation said that it believed 'the achievement of DRM interoperability will be the fruit of a market-driven process and that it will not result from the choice of a single technology'.
On the issue of multi-territory licensing, MPA Europe went on to say that a 'one-size-fits-all' business model could not be effective in meeting the diverse needs of European creators and that 'potential restrictions on the industry's freedom to license would therefore penalise creators'.
On the producers' side, the EPAA (European Producers Associations Alliance) was particularly critical of multi-territory licenses. The group said, 'Issuing pan-European licenses would give a serious competitive advantage to the few organizations operating on a Europe-wide basis, i.e. the American majors. This matter should rest with the producer's own intention and free will and should never be included in any European regulation.'
And it is not just content providers who have voiced their objections. EDiMA (European Digital Media Association), which represents new media companies such as Google, Microsoft and Apple, has also stated its objections to a regulatory approach to DRMs.
The organisation's response said, 'Trying to manage, through regulation, these emerging services and models will stifle innovation and leave rights holders, service providers and consumers with limited choices and offerings.'
The objections to the proposals on the interoperability and transparency of DRMs will come as a blow to the Commissioner for Media and Information Society, Viviane Reding, who has personally championed this approach.
The proposals were published in the EC's new strategic approach to support Europe's online content sector, the 'Communication on Creative Content Online', at the beginning of the year. They are now with the European Parliament and Council for comment.
A final Recommendation on the issues is expected from the Commission in June this year.