May 11, 2015

European Commission to Harmonise Copyright Laws in Digital Single Market

In July 2014, the now President of the European Union, Jean-Claude Juncker, talked about the need for a connected Digital Single Market. In an extract from the Political Guidelines for the next European Commission titled: A New Start for Europe: My Agenda for Jobs, Growth, Fairness and Democratic Change, Jean-Claude Juncker said:

"I believe that we must make much better use of the great opportunities offered by digital technologies, which know no border. To do so, we will need to have the courage to break down national silos in telecoms regulation, in copyright and data protection legislation, in the management of radio waves and in the application of competition law."

In May 2015, The European Commission published its report titled: A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe. In this report were plans for the creation of a Digital Single Market in which, the central to the report, is the joining of the concept of the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital with that of ease of access of individuals and businesses to online activities with increased consumer data protection and fair competition.

The aim of these proposals are to break down barriers that currently suppress production across the European Union and to develop the Digital Single Market on the basis of three main criteria:

Increased and improved access for consumers and businesses to online goods and services across Europe.
Creating optimal conditions by which digital networks and services may thrive.
Increasing the growth potential of the European Digital Economy.

Through these criteria, it is hoped to provide fertile ground for new start-ups and allow growth and profitability of existing companies which would ultimately lead to an additional EUR 415 billion to the European gross demographic production.

A better access to digital content is one area that has been highlighted by the report. At present, it is reported that 56% of Europeans use the internet for cultural purposes and spending on digital entertainment and media. This is predicted to grow by 12% over the next five years as a consequence of consumer behavioural trends and accessibility of content on mobile devices.

An identified restriction on growth of digital entertainment consumerism across the European Union are the cross border barriers to access of copyright content. Moving from one member state to another may often prevent certain content being available, or in other circumstances, consumers may be geo blocked. Geo-blocking refers to a denial of service of contents from a particular member state or the re-routing to a local website were the content may not be available, or may have a different price to that which they would have acquired in their home country.

Whilst the restriction of content in different member states may be down to territoriality or the clearing of rights, or restrictions imposed on the licensing of certain types of works, The European Union will propose legislation aimed at reducing the variation in national copyright regimes and allow for wider online access to works by users through the EU through portability of legally acquired content, cross border access of online services legally acquired, greater legal certainty with regards to content obtained for the specific purposes such as research or education.

The aim of this, and the other proposals in the Digital Single Market report is about preparing the European Union for a digital future.

As summed up by Jean-Claude Juncker, 2014 : "By creating a connected digital single market, we can generate up to EUR 250 billion of additional growth in Europe in the course of the mandate of the next commission, thereby creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs, notably for younger job-seekers, and a vibrant knowledge-based society."

Posted by: in: Copyright, Digital/Tech, EU/International

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