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EU Looks To 'Modernize' Copyright

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

07 December 2012

On December 5, 2012, the European Commission (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.

It was pointed out that the digital economy has been a major driver of growth in the past two decades, and is expected to grow seven times faster than overall EU gross domestic product in coming years. "Online," it was said, "there are new ways of providing, creating and distributing content... (representing) a challenge and an opportunity for all the creative industries, authors and artists and other actors in the digital economy."

The EC's objective is to ensure that copyright stays fit for purpose in the new digital context. While good progress has been made in implementing the May 2011 Intellectual Property Rights Strategy, there still remain a series of issues which need to be addressed to ensure an effective single market in this area.

The EC will therefore work for "a modern copyright framework that guarantees effective recognition and remuneration of rights holders in order to provide sustainable incentives for creativity, cultural diversity and innovation; opens up greater access and a wider choice of legal offers to end users; allows new business models to emerge; and contributes to combating illegal offers and piracy."

The EC has agreed on two parallel tracks of action, the first of which involves a structured stakeholder dialogue to be launched at the start of 2013 to work 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. The discussions will explore the potential and limits of innovative licensing and technological solutions in EU copyright law and practice.

By December 2013, the EC will take stock of the outcome of this dialogue which is intended to deliver effective market-led solutions to the issues identified. However, it was added that it could also identify the need for public policy action, including legislative reform.

The second track will include the completion of the relevant market studies, impact assessment and legal drafting work with a view to a decision in 2014 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 this process, the EC stated that it will then decide on the next steps necessary to complete its review of the EU copyright framework, which, presumably, could well involve proposals to revise the directives involved.

TAGS: individuals | compliance | business | artists | European Commission | Intellectual Property | law | intellectual property | copyright | enforcement | licensing | legislation | legislation amendments | Europe

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