Wednesday 10 September 2014

New EU Commission, new home for copyright

This morning President-Elect Juncker of the EU Commission announced the portfolios which will be held by members of the incoming EU Commission, whose term of office commences on  (subject to the team being ratified by the European Parliament).

The new Commissioner-designate holding the Digital Agenda, German Guenther Oettinger, received an extra gift because, in addition to the portfolio he will inherit from Commissioner Kroes, the units responsible for copyright, formerly part of DG Market - for Brussels insiders, it is apparently units D1 and D3 of DG Market that are moving into what was known as DG Connect and will now be known as DG Digital Economy and Society.

This development is likely to be greeted with concern by the rights-holder community.  DG Connect and its incumbent, Mrs Kroes, have generally been seen to be pro-tech and telco-interests and less than supportive of copyright and the creative industries, while DG Market has been seen to be much more willing to defend the value of copyright in a digital age.

Brussels-watchers will doubtless be scrutinising Commissioner Oettinger's pronouncements for signs of whether he will take a more balanced approach than that of his predecessor - although as he has spent the last 5 years as Energy Commissioner, that may not be easy to determine.  Those looking for an upside might argue that the new DG DES will be forced to be more balanced because of its greater ownership of the creative economy - as well as copyright policy, the "Media" programme has been given to DG DES.

The Commission has announced a broader team that will have overall charge of digital policy, led by former Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip - as Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, he will "steer and coordinate the work of several Commissioners, in particular the Commissioners for Digital Economy and Society; Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs; Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility; Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality; Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs; Regional Policy; and Agriculture and Rural Development."

Do readers see this as a downgrade for the importance of copyright policy in the EU?

1 comment:

Chris Oldknow said...

This does seem rather a sign that Junker intends to live up to his promise of initiating copyright reform in his first 6 months. Taking all copyright issues and related cultural programmes into Connect is a definite statement. There is quite a bit that doesn't relate to a single digital market at all of course, but presumably that will receive less focus.
Splitting copyright from other IP will create challenges for revising the Enforcement Directive, and creates a challenging split for OHIM over the Observatory on IP Infringements. The unit that deals with tat other horizontal issue, safe harbours, has also gone to Connect, so a return of a Notice and Action Directive proposal seems likely.