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EU Launches Copyright Licence Initiative

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

08 February 2013

In a speech to copyright owners, users, publishers and universities, looking at how digital technology and copyright can fit together, Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission (EC) responsible for the European Union’s Digital Agenda, launched an initiative called “Licences for Europe.”

The initiative is aimed at promoting copyright licences, as a next step in maintaining traditional copyright in light of new digital technologies. It is part, said Kroes, of an attempt to “adapt practices to fit new digital opportunities,” and “show technology and copyright can go together.”

She pointed to the “Spotify effect, [where] music piracy is no longer a problem in Sweden, because there's a good legal alternative. While for SACEM, in France, digital is now their third largest source of revenue, rising 40% in five years.”

She added that the EC is launching "Licences for Europe" to help “capture all the benefits of a connected, competitive continent. Ultimately, I want Europeans to enjoy a wide choice of lawful digital content, wherever they are: and for that content to be rewarded.”

In December last year, the EC held an orientation debate on copyright in the digital economy and agreed to launch a stakeholder dialogue on immediate issues for action and to study other medium-term issues for decision-making in 2014.

The EC's objective, it was said, is to ensure that copyright stays fit for purpose in the new digital context. In addition, the EC plans to continue the stakeholder dialogue, which was launched by Kroes in her speech, and which will work throughout 2013 to 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 audio-visual works and cultural heritage.

A second track, however, will also include the completion by the EC of market studies, impact assessments and legal drafting work with a view to a decision in 2014 on whether to table legislative reform proposals. It will address four medium-term issues: mitigating the effects of territoriality in the EU’s internal market; agreeing appropriate levels of harmonization, limitations and exceptions to copyright in the digital age; how best to reduce the fragmentation of the EU copyright market; and how to improve the legitimacy of enforcement in the context of wider copyright reform.

Based on the outcomes of both of these processes, the EC has stated that it will then decide on the next steps necessary to complete its review of the EU copyright framework, which could well involve proposals to revise the directives involved.

TAGS: individuals | business | artists | European Commission | law | intellectual property | copyright | enforcement | internet | licensing | regulation | European Union (EU) | Europe

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