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EP Looks For EU Online Copyright Licences

by Ulrika Lomas, for LawAndTax-News.com, Brussels

28 September 2010


To counteract the growing problem of breaches of intellectual property rights (IPR) on the internet, the European Parliament (EP) has recommended the removal of barriers to a single digital market by granting European Union (EU)-wide copyright licences for products like music, books and films.

As was conceded by Neelie Kroes, the European Digital Agenda Commissioner, during a speech in May this year, the EU has not grasped the opportunity to create a single European market for digital content. "There is a huge digital single market for audiovisual material. The problem is that it's illegal, and it's not monetized," she said. "We have effectively allowed illegal file-sharing to set up a single market where our usual policy channels have failed."

The EU's Digital Agenda, which calls for the creation of a single European licence so that consumers can purchase digital content from any of the 27 member states of the EU, is the solution to this problem, Kroes argued.

MEPs have now reiterated that the "enormous growth of unauthorized file sharing of copyrighted works is an increasing problem for the European economy in terms of job opportunities and revenues for the industry as well as for government."

The EP has therefore asked the European Commission (EC) to propose a comprehensive strategy on IPR which will remove obstacles to creating a single online market and adapt the European IPR legislative framework to current trends in society as well as technical developments.

The EP does not share the EC's view that the current civil enforcement framework in the EU is sufficiently effective and harmonized. It has asked the EC to think broadly about methods of facilitating industry's access to the digital market without geographical borders by addressing urgently the issue of multi-territory licences and the harmonization of legislation on copyright.

The EP’s resolution says that a pan-European licensing system should provide consumers with "access to the widest possible choice of content and not at the expense of European local repertoire.”

Dialogue on possible solutions must also involve all stakeholders, including internet service providers, and MEPs pointed out that, as there is not enough data on breaches of IPR, they called for independent studies to be carried out before any new legislation is proposed.

MEPs also argued that the 'private copy' should be seen as an exception to IPR. They want individuals who copy originals for private use not to have to prove that their copies are legitimate. They also called on the EC to pursue its efforts to make progress on the negotiations for an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), taking full account of the EP's position and ensuring that the ACTA’s provisions fully comply with existing EU rules on IPR and fundamental rights.

The EP also wants the EC to set up more helpdesks in third countries (notably in India and Russia), to help European entrepreneurs enforce their IPR more actively and to combat the entry into the EU internal market of counterfeit goods from such countries.

TAGS: individuals | European Commission | commerce | law | intellectual property | entrepreneurs | copyright | internet | e-commerce | licensing | legislation | European Union (EU) | Europe

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