Wednesday 7 November 2012

Barnier's future for copyright: watch this space!

Today the European Union Commissioner for the single market, Michel Barnier, gave a speech at the launch event of the CEPS Digital Forum Taskforce on Copyright in the EU Digital Single Market / Brussels. With the world watching the US elections it probably won't be the most read speech for today, so I thought it fair to bring it to the attention of readers.

Michel Barnier began his speech by saying:
© European Commission
"When it was created in 1992, one million computers were connected to the internet worldwide. In 2016, that number will be 10 billion: 10 000 times more! In 1992, we never imagined that one day we would be able to read our favourite newspaper, discover new music or watch a film  anytime, anywhere, on any device - a laptop, a tablet or a phone. We could not imagine the opportunities. Or indeed the challenges that would arise. In particular from a European perspective. Copyright is at the heart of these opportunities and challenges."

He went on to echo the Neelie Kroes by asking the question: is copyright fit for the digital age?
Michel Barnier generously said that he did not blame copyright for everything that does not work in the internet and more sensibly that he does not deny that rules need to be modernised and adapted where the evidence is there.

Barnier listed the four main things that he seeks to achieve, each of which he elaborates on further in his speech. In at nutshell what he wants is:
a copyright framework that facilitates the access of all Europeans to their heritage. He wants to make make dissemination of digital works currently out of distribution easier by a combination of limiting rights (where justified) and easier licensing, notably by way of collective management. He also refers to the Orphan Works Directive and to the Recommendation made to Member States "inviting them to step up their efforts for the digitisation of cultural material".

a copyright framework that passes the "Single Market test", making more content available to more citizens, cross-border. Michel Barnier argues that the territoriality of copyright, and the complexities of licensing, should not constitute a barrier. He says that an important step was taken in July when the Directive on the collective management of rights was proposed in relation to licensing of music rights by collecting societies. He went on to say that: " it is unacceptable that Europeans are confronted online with the borders we have been dismantling in the physical world for 50 years. As Single Market Commissioner, I cannot accept this." Therefore we can expect to see full implementation of Single Market instruments such as the Services Directive as well as possible new legislation.

a copyright framework that provides the right incentives for those that create and invest in content and that ensures the right balance with other policy objectives such as education, research or innovation. In this respect Michel Barnier considers whether more harmonisation is needed to update the existing limitations and to ensure that they apply across borders; however copyright should not be weakened to enable the development of new businesses free of cost. It is important, he says, the strike the right balance between rights and limitations whilst preserving the incentive to create.

a copyright framework that continues to provide incentives but which must include meaningful enforcement. Now more than ever Michel Barnier argues that it is essential that business models based on infringement of intellectual property rights are eliminated business models as this is how new jobs (in legitimate companies) will be created.
Michel Barnier finishes by saying that proposals must be based "on precise data and serious analysis" and that all relevant parties must be involved in the process. To this blogger this implies that we are in for a bit of a wait before we see any changes at a European level. Perhaps that the new CEPS task force on copyright in the digital single market will prove otherwise, however Michel Barnier's closing remark speaks volumes: his "recommendation at this point is simple: watch this space!".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Michel Barnier, Neelie Kroes et al., I know that you have written some banal speeches and tweeted, but let's be frank here - have you ever produced something creative - have you written a decent poem, have you written a song, have you made a film, have you written a thoughtful book, can you oil-paint? Frankly, do you have a clue what you are talking about? If you think creativity is about cross-border law, availability of archives or mash-ups, you are seriously out of touch with the soul of creativity. It's not about systems, technology or cliches. Sorry, mate, it's about the soul - policy, policy, it don't mean a thing. Of course, you won't understand a word of this and that is exactly the problem with Europe's culture. You think it's all about law and technology, but it's all about the heart. How sad, how sad. How bankrupt our civilization is. Keep repeating your mantras and finally, yes, you will do it, the less embers of Europe's creativity will die out, once and for all.